Intro to Computer Science Upper School

I’m working on a new curriculum for my intro to computer science class that will exclusively use Sparki for the whole year. The premise is this. Similar to the health classes of the 80’s where students had to take care of an egg for a full month, my curriculum would require students to take care of their sparki’s for a full year. Students will name them, decorate them and program them, with the objective of making them as “human” as possible. As parents teach their kids about being human and humanity, students will be required to teach their robots to be “human”. The will spend their time journaling and programming their robots. I set up a facebook page for my robot. I renamed him Jenson. Sparki was taken.

I hope kids get the exposure to programming but also think about the bigger issues of man and the machines and the blurring boundaries between them as our computers get faster and more capable. Any thoughts, comments and recommendations are absolutely welcome. I’ve thrown this idea out to teachers and students and seem to have gotten a positive response. Please send ideas and things that you might think help me out. Join my facebook page.

That’s pretty awesome! I think some of our robots are jealous now, they might want to post more updates about themselves online.

Hey, Jenson. I’m planning a similar idea for a freshman “intro to engineering/into to comp sci” class. My thought was to introduce the Sparki similar to your plan where they each get one, and then work from there teaching them programming as they complete mini challenges with the Sparki.
One of my ideas is to teach them some CAD and have them design a bump system for the back end of their Sparki. We could use a 3D printer to let their designs be made real and then they could attach and program this new aspect of the robot. The final project would be having the new Sparkis navigate a forest of obstacles and see whose bump system designs worked best. My question is, could the Sparki accommodate electronically the addition of “on/off” touch sensors. I see there are some open ports on the side of the LCD but I don’t know how to leverage them.

Hi Chia,

Sparki can definitely accommodate that. We have a map of the expansion port here: … sion-port/

You can use the pins as arduino pins, with pinMode and digitalWrite:

Here’s an example of how to use these with a switch:

Let us know if there’s anything else you’re curious about!