Camp Mama: Back to School Robot Party

Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.

 

Robot PartyI celebrated my birthday this year with a bunch of boys and a couple of robots. My husband thought I was crazy when I told him my plans, and my friends were surprised. Nevertheless it was my party and I was going to do what I wanted. As soon as I saw that Tryazon and Ozobot had collaborated for parties I knew instantly that I wanted to do a Back to School Robot party for my 9 year old and his friends. (And my friends. Let’s face it, parties are fun and robots are fun for grown ups too.)

Tryazon, if you’re not familiar, is a company that facilitates getting innovative, new products into the hands (and parties) of consumers so they can interact with the products for themselves in a fun, no-pressure situation. I especially liked that last part as I have stopped attending direct sales parties years ago because I am so uncomfortable with the “selling to friends” concept. This is not a sales party. I repeat: this is not a sales party. But you do send your guests home with valuable coupons should they decide they want to make a purchase. It’s the best of both worlds if you ask me.

Ozobot, you should recall from Camp Mama Robotics Week as well as my post about the Next Generation of Makers, is a pocket-sized robot that is programmable and worlds of fun. I knew that it would be the perfect way to celebrate all the discovery of summer while also gearing their minds toward the processes of school.

After verifying that the day/time I had in mind was available for some key players I sent out some evites and began planning. It was so exciting as my ideas came together! (A word of advice here: “parents are encouraged to stay and play” is a tidy way to let your friends know this is not a drop and dash party.)

The Big Day
After a critical mass had arrived I gathered everyone and briefly introduced Tryazon. I wanted to quickly put to ease any direct-selling trepidation my friends may have. Before I introduced Ozobot, however, I led the kids in a game of Simon Says. Not only did they need to get their wiggles out, but it helped me then to explain how the Ozobot works.

It’s All About How You Say It
You see, without prefacing my directions with “Simon Says” the children didn’t do anything, no matter how many times I said “JUMP!” I then introduced Ozobot, a tiny robot that will do what you say if you can say it in it’s language. A code for computers is a special language to signal to the computer what to do.  I demonstrated to the group how I “told” this little robot to go to the end of the line, turn around, and come back, and if I told it in the right code, or robot language, then it would do what I asked.

Ozobot Olympics
Once everyone had practiced their line drawing technique and the turn around code, we were ready for the real thing. I passed out “Human – Robot Translation Dictionaries” (extra copies I had made of the Ozobot Code Sheet) and made sure every child had paper and a set of wide markers. Using their own creativity and imagination, they made routines or courses or challenges for the Ozos to complete.

Some younger siblings in the other room, and usually nine at a time around the dining table, sharing the Ozobots and showing off their slick tricks.
With some younger siblings in the other room, there were usually at least eight kids at a time around the dining table, sharing the Ozobots and showing off their slick tricks.

It’s A Robot World
As their papers filled and their confidence grew, so did their ideas. That’s when I knew we were ready to cover the dining table with craft paper. It was time to collaborate to create an entire cityscape or track or whatever they wanted. As they worked they had to use their problem solving skills to improve their technique as well as learn how to “better use the robot language.” They were generally supportive and helpful to each other with only a few instances of grabbing an Ozobot from someone who was testing their section or of being territorial.

IMG_2796
How fast can it go with several turbo codes in a row?

Feed Me
I didn’t serve a meal, per se, but I did have snacks for the guests after we put the robots safely away. What do you eat at a party for a 1in round robot? Why doughnut holes and meatballs of course! These were extremely popular and thus impossible to photograph. Everything was inhaled promptly.

Selfie Station
It’s just not a modern party without a photo op, is there? We were inspired by the props in the Starter Kit you can use to dress up the robots so we gathered some fun hats and let the kids play. We used a dozen assorted balloons as our back drop or as additional props, however the kids wanted to do it, again inspired by the round little robot.

Forget Duck Face, Hat Covering Face is the next instagram sensation.
Move along Duck Face, Hat Covering Face is going to be the next instagram sensation.

IMG_2898Door Prize
My hostess kit came with two Ozobot Starter Kits for us to use at the party. At the end of the party I boxed up one of the Ozobots and we had a drawing for a door prize. Because we had families with siblings, and because I understand the nature of sibling rivalry and possession, I didn’t enter each guest into the drawing, but each family. This way the family with four children was not at an unfair advantage, giving everyone equal footing. Also, no one sibling, if he or she was the winner, could claim dominance and possession, the robot would belong to the winning family.

We had so much fun! The party was exactly as I hoped: only a mild level of chaos, mostly organized, friends engaged and learning and exploring and collaborating. Summer is over. Camp Mama is over. School started two days later.

My kids have kept the craft paper on the dining table all week, adding to it and playing. If you’ve got an Ozobot then you know: the party isn’t over.

Heather

Disclosure:
I received the party pack containing two Ozobot Starter Kits from Tryazon and Ozobot
for the purpose of hosting this party.

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