Our Ozobots Review and Educational Tips

Updated 08 November 2018

In the Spring of 2012, a tech-gadget company called Evollve Inc. was founded with the goal of creating innovative ways for tech-savvy youngsters to play, learn and interact in a digitally expanding world. There's absolutely nothing wrong with learning while having fun in our opinion. In fact, it's probably one of the best ways to keep young minds interested with the task at hand. Evollve Inc. released Ozobots to accomplish this goal!

Ozobot Bit 2.0

How does Evollve Inc. make tech learning fun?

After exploring the concepts and intricacies of building and using robots and how those methods have evolved over time, Evollve decided to create their first educational robot, Ozobot 1.0. Since the original Ozobot, Evollve has released two updated models:

What is an Ozobot?

An Ozobot is a small (about 2.5cm) robot that uses RGB colour sensors on its underside to 'read' the colour of the surface it is driving on. When it reads a colour, the RGB LED in the dome of the Ozobot will react to reflect the colour read. For example, a simple, monocolored line is the standard going forward instruction for your Ozobot and can be drawn in a whiteboard marker or something similar. When you start to combine your colours is where it gets a little more interesting.

There are a collection of 'color-codes' - called Ozocodes, that are a combination of 3-4 RGB colour segments. These are read by your Ozobot and signal it to perform specific actions once read. Each colour code starts and ends with a black colour segment. These can be placed in line with your normal track as static codes or you can use an application to flash these colours to your robot. You can see the complete range of colour codes in this handy chart.

Grab a printable version of the Ozocodes chart here

OzoBot OzoCodes chart for programming the Ozobot using color markers

Why is this a good way to learn robotics and programming?

By taking the software and hardware layer out of the robot equation, you can begin to learn the basics at almost any age. You just need to be able to read what the colour code causes your Ozobot to do and then have some whiteboard markers handy. From creating large elaborate mazes of black tracks, into turn codes and beyond. The toolset is so well established and ready for use, everything you need to get going will be available as you need it!

I have drawn 1000 color-coded tracks, what now?

Once you have created stacks of crazy tracks full of direction changes, timers, speed boosts and turn counters you can jump onto http://ozoblockly.com/ and start coding your Ozobot using the Visual Block programming language, Blockly. If you haven't seen or heard of Blockly before, it's a Google project that removes text-based programming entry barriers, mainly instruction syntax, from software creation.

Ozoblockly screenshot, a block based programming environment for Ozobot

By using visual 'blocks' to denote the instructions, you can easily pick up the basics of programming logic and learn how to create simple code without worrying about a missing semi-colon, capital letter, or  that prevents you from progressing.

Ozobot Blockly will work with almost any device that has a screen, all you need to do is calibrate it before you proceed! Once you're happy with your code and calibrated, simply hold your Ozobots power button for 2 seconds and place the color sensors up to the area of the screen indicated. This will 'flash' your Blockly program into the Ozobots memory! You can store up to 500 instructions on your Ozobot, which is more than enough for even the most advanced mazes!

Ozoblockly Upload Example screenshot

To run the stored program, double tap your power button and your Ozobot will run your code. Note that it will run exactly as it was written, so if you have some weird behaviour you might need to check out your code. Now you have gone from drawing straight black lines to colour coding your Ozobot, to creating Blockly code that you upload to your robot.

This little robot from Evollve Inc is a really great way for children aged 6 and up to learn the basics of programming. If you want any more information on Ozobot, start the discussion below and we'll be happy to answer any questions you've got! If you're an educator looking for more information on how to integrate Ozobot into your classroom or maker space, head over to http://ozobot.com/stem-education and check out the available kits, lesson plans, webinars and challenges available (all for free). 

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