Written by Guest Writer – Elizabeth Moran
Sphero continue to secure their place in the education market with the introduction of their new product, Specdrums- where music and coding come together.
When worn by the user, this ring can be tapped on any coloured surface to create a variety of sounds, beats and loops. The rings are Bluetooth Midi compatible and when paired with an IOS or Android device and synced with the Sphero EDU app, the creative possibilities are endless.
The ring is made from silicone and features a light sensor to detect colours and an accelerometer to determine when the user is tapping an object. The pack comes with a Micro USB charger and rubber playing pad which when rolled up, makes the kit very portable for aspiring young musicians and DJ’s.
Educators can expand their ‘instrument’ base by utilising any coloured objects in the classroom or school environment such as tables, post-it notes, fruit, clothing etc. The free ‘Specdrums’ app uses on-board sound packs in a variety of categories such as Strings, Synths and Drums.
The second ‘Sphero EDU’ app combines software, hardware and community to create a STEAM based space that will inspire creativity and nurture your students’ musical and coding skills.
As a music educator and ICT leader, I believe this product ticks all the boxes. It uses an intuitive and expandable app and the rings themselves are sturdy enough to take some knocks in the classroom. My students have enthusiastically explored the school grounds to ‘play’ murals, chairs and even our rainbow themed playground! The older students have embraced the opportunity to create their own sound banks and record tracks to upload on our student website.
The rings work as Bluetooth MIDI devices so they also have the ability to connect to other music-making apps and software such as GarageBand and Ableton Live. It’s worth noting that Sphero will be releasing a classroom pack in August/September that will feature individual codes on each of the rings. This will assist with the connecting of multiple devices in the classroom. The pack will also include activity cards to provide more focus driven lessons for teachers.
With Specdrum, Sphero have successfully bridged the gap between science/technology and art/music, and in doing so have inspired my students to use music and code to explore the world around them.