Exploring the History of Maine Through Robotics

In the fall of 2022, Ann McClellan asked Maxx Pillsbury, a student of the Sphero Bolt coding program at Mt. View Middle School, how he might use the Bolt to tell a story. Both interested in Maine history, Ms. McClellan and Maxx began exploring using the Bolt to tell the story of ten historically significant places in Maine.

Maxx coded his Bolt to be Samuel de Champlain, an explorer who traveled the coast of Maine. Maxx and Ms. McClellan used a rope to model the nooks and crannies of Maine’s rugged coastline and painted designs on paper to represent characteristics of the area being explored.

Once they planned the layout, Maxx programmed the Bolt. While working, Maxx decided he also wanted the Bolt to narrate the history locations. He wrote a script, chose sounds to enhance the audience’s experience, and found music to play.

You can view a video of the robot moving through the project here:

The final product is impressive and took perseverance and critical thinking to problem solve through challenges that presented themselves throughout the process. For instance, placing the Bolt just right was imperative to its success.

“If the angle was just slightly different when it was set down, then it could mess the whole thing up,” Maxx said.

Ms. McClellan agreed, “Directionals and movement controls were challenging. These had to do with speed, angles, and time. We maintained humor, flexibility, and perseverance, so we got through the programming!”

Maxx is eager to apply what he learned from this project to his other classes. “In my history classes, I will already know some history about early explorers in Maine, and in math class, I can use what I learned about ratios with distance, speed, and time.”

For more information about the Sphero Bolt coding program or other ways to integrate computer science into your curriculum, reach out our computer science specialist, Emma Banks at Emma-Marie.Banks@maine.gov or visit: https://www.maine.gov/doe/learning/ltt/computerscience.