Sphero or Ozobot? Ozobot or Sphero?
I have used both Sphero and Ozobot for several years now. The devices are more than toys. They are programmable robots that provide suitable means for students to learn the art of coding.
One may be fooled into thinking the hardware is similar; however, Sphero and Ozobot have unique characteristics that influence their educational value. Before deciding which robot to purchase one must consider their variables.
Battery and Charging
From my experience Ozobot charge significantly faster than Sphero. When in use, the devices last as long as each other. When not in use, the Ozobot maintains charge a lot longer than Sphero. The Sphero requires the use of a docking station for charging to be performed whereas the cord used for the charging station can plug directly into the back of the Ozobot thus simplifying the charging procedures. Both devices flash red when battery life is depleted. In the past, I am able to recover battery life quickly for Ozobot where in contrast Sphero require at least thirty minutes of charge for the spherical robot to have any form of life. Sphero will require two to three hours of charging while Ozobot are ready to use again with the hour.
Portability, Body and Shape
Ozobot are light and many can fit within a small container. Sphero on the other hand are weighty and need to be carried in a bag or carton when moved between rooms. When in use Ozobot require a small space and therefore work beautifully in the classroom setting. Students can easily work at tables to code the tiny machines. Sphero on the other hand need a large open area for operation and in some cases rooms or venues will need to be booked in advanced for classes. Fortunately Sphero and Ozobot have protective cases that protect them from being damaged. In result, Sphero can be taken outdoors and using technology outside of the classroom will most certainly provide unique learning experiences for students. Sphero cases are purchased separately while the purchase of Ozobot will include simple silicon covers. Sphero work best in an open area and can entertain crowds where in contrast the audience for Ozobot will be limited to those in close proximity to the unit.
Pairing and Coding
In regards to Apple iOS, Sphero SPRK require iPad 4, iPad Mini 2 or the latest generation models to function. They connect easily via Bluetooth and the pairing is uncomplicated. Coding using Tickle and SpheroEdu is incredibly simple. In contrast the Ozobots that I use for teaching Digital Technologies do not have Bluetooth and therefore require no connection. The products can be coded using basic lines or colour combinations to instruct the mini robot to perform certain actions. Using the Ozoblockly website the small devices can be programmed. The process of coding them is like magic; however, it's a little tricky at times as the sequence of steps must be precisely followed.
Ozobot are limited with what can be achieved in regards to STEM. Challenges can be set and even 3D Exoskeletons printed to meet identified goals for Ozobot; yet, Sphero are very versatile devices. Students can make caddies to carry objects like cameras for the Sphero to behave like a spy-cam or secret agent.. The Sphero device is waterproof and able to float as they have no ports. Viking Boat races can be organised and paintings made. On numerous occasions I've held Sphero Painting Auctions which have drawn communities together to raise funds to support local charities. Sphero are incredibly fast and the light spectrum they produce is astounding. They can perform countless actions and impressive stunts. Ozobot in comparison is tame and restricting. Ozobots can be decorated and students enjoy making costumes for them. Previously I have recycled coffee pods and used them to make body armour for the miniature programmable robots.
Two Ozobots can be purchased for the price of one Sphero. There are many accessories that can be purchased to improve Sphero use; however, recycling materials can be used to make needed accessories. The websites for Ozobot and Sphero are helpful and include both teaching resources and lesson ideas. In regards to social media, they are very active in promoting their work yet completely unresponsive to mentions or direct messaging.