What Is the Ozobot Bit?
The Ozobot Bit is a color sensing robot that reads and responds to 23 possible codes. Users can control speed, direction, unlock special moves, activate timers, and play games. Inputs are created when the user draws paths for Ozobot to follow using four different colored markers. Ozobot reads these commands and performs an action.
It’s So Small, But Look At It Go!
I unboxed my Starter Pack, finding markers, directions, and even stickers! But quickly a panic set in: where was my Ozobot? Frantically, I laid the box’s contents on my desk. How could I have lost it already? I picked up the now empty box for one final examination to find a bouncy-ball-sized robot. Phew!
The complete Starter Pack includes your Ozobot Bit, four markers, directions, drawing guides, and challenge cards. The drawing guides take the user through step-by-step commands to practice different code combinations before creating their own.
The Ozobot site is quite impressive. The site has detailed facilitator guide, lesson plans, and challenges. Most importantly, all resources are 100% free to download and print for the classroom.
Ozo also has its own block programming language! Users can create programs and load them to Ozo by placing the bot on the device’s screen. In the OzoBot App users can create paths for Ozo to trace on screen. Note that this feature works best with tablets. Alternatively, the kit comes with six die to simulate random design challenges. Directions for the game can be found here.
My Concerns: Price
I do have a few concerns with the Ozobot: the first is cost. The Ozobot Starter kit is $60 and the Ozobot Bit itself is $40. Purchasing enough bots for a class would be costly, and its size makes it too small to share. Additionally, it would potentially be difficult to maintain all the bots and keep them charged.
I would not purchase an entire classroom set, especially if your makerspace is trying the Ozobot for the first time. For a room of twenty youth, two Ozobots would be ideal, especially when youth are divided into teams.
My Suggestion: Get One To Share!
My suggestion is to use the online resources from their site. In a class setting, present a challenge to youth and break them into teams of two or three. Then, youth can draw their solution on white copy paper. When youth believe they have a solution, the facilitator should walk over, place Ozo down and evaluate with the team if they completed the challenge.
To make this process smoother, I would prepare and print a list of challenges so youth can keep working while the facilitator is checking each group’s projects. The facilitator can then “check-off” their completed challenges to show the team’s progress.
If Ozobot programs are organized in this manner, the facilitator is able to keep track of the little bot. This is important because it is so small and if the entire class has an Ozo and are moving around the space, there is a high probability for lost or damaged bots. The best alternative is for the facilitator to walk around the space with the Ozo.
What About the Markers?
This style of teaching presents a new problem — markers for each youth. We know Ozobot can sense four colors: blue, red, green, and black, all of which are provided. To purchase the Ozobot marker pack separately is $6, which is slightly expensive.
Good news though: Crayola markers worked flawlessly. A pack of ten ranges from about $3 – $4 and your learning space is more likely to have these on hand. Besides…who doesn’t love markers?
Sharpies, however, were not as effective. Black was no problem, but our little robot had a hard time distinguishing between the dark ink colors.
My Conclusions: Good Tool!
Ozobot is a programmer’s dream as it allows for hands-on problem solving. There are a multitude of resources and ways to increase difficulty. The main concern is cost, but all around Ozobot is an unique way to introduce programming to youth and adults alike.
Shop here for your own and let us know what you think about the Ozobot Bit!