A Road Trip Through Ancient Mesopotamia
an integrated learning project
Imagine taking a road trip through Ancient Mesopotamia—traveling through farming villages of the Tigris and Euphrates plain, visiting impressive granaries and temples, even chasing a pet chimp! That’s exactly what sixth graders have been doing, using ozobots—pocket-sized, rolling robots—in an innovative new project developed by two John Jay Middle School teachers that integrates social studies, design thinking, and technology.
Technology teacher Carolyn Kelly introduced ozobots to sixth graders this September in the circuitry, electronics and coding unit. She mentioned the students’ enthusiasm to social studies teacher Marcia Daley-Savo, who uses games like Breakout.Edu to engage students. That sparked “A Day in the Life of an Ordinary Ozobot in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Kelly and Daley-Savo created the project together, bringing Library Media Specialist Jenn Useted on board to help share it throughout the sixth grade.
a team building challenge
The middle school's recently upgraded library classroom signals hands-on fun and learning
John Jay Middle School's recently upgraded library classroom—with smart displays, rolling chairs, and spacious tables—was the perfect place for students to work on the project. Each group received a piece of poster board and markers. Kelly distributed ozobots and a key that indicated how the robot would respond to various codes made of lines and colors.
“You, your teammates and your ozobot pal are about to embark on a journey to the Ziggurat,” said Daley-Savo. “You will need to use your knowledge about ancient Mesopotamia and coding to help your ozobot pal find its way to the Ziggurat. There will be dangerous obstacles and delays along the way but with perseverance and teamwork you will reach the goal.”
applying content, coding and collaboration
Groups of students worked together to create a map of Ancient Mesopotamia that featured elements they had studied in class. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, a Ziggurat, a bazaar and the Zagros Mountains were listed on the classroom’s Apple TV.
The students also received nine obstacle cards, each naming a challenge such as a sandstorm, goats crossing the road, a missed stop at the granary. It was up to them to design a coded map to help their ozobot overcome these Ancient Mesopotamian obstacles.
“I have an idea!” “We need to ...” “What if ...” was heard throughout the lab. Ozobots stopped in town squares, spun in sandstorms, and zig-zagged on primitive roads. Reaching the Ziggurat was celebrated with cheers.
Watch an Ozobot at Work
A collaboration between teachers
a deeply immersive project
"A Day in the Life of an Ordinary Ozobot in Ancient Mesopotamia,” proved to be an immersive project. “The combination of rich narrative, digital technology, and real-world game play asked students to exercise critical thinking, resilience, and creative problem solving,” said Daley-Savo. “The most exciting thing that can happen to a teacher is to see the skills they have taught transfer seamlessly and become learning tools in other disciplines,” said Kelly.
A set of ozobots has found a permanent home in John Jay Middle School’s library for both teachers and students to create new journeys.