July’s Educator of the Month Visits National Parks from the Comfort of Color Codes

We’re celebrating a #SummerofSTEAM here at Ozobot, and for many, summer vacation means trips to see new and exciting parts of the country. For me personally, this is especially true.

I wanted to take a brief moment to introduce myself, as this is my first post to the OzoBlog! My name’s Danielle. In June, my husband and I (plus Evo and Bit in tow, too!) moved into a 30-foot Winnebago RV to embark upon an adventure: to travel the fifty-nifty United States for a full year.

In other words, we’re exploring the country the old-fashioned, analog way. But thanks to advances in technology like VR, there are new ways to experience our national parks and other attractions. The July Creator of the Month also used tech, Ozobot robots, to see some of the most famous sites around the nation.

Allow me to introduce Melissa Zeitz, who figured out a way to bring the great outdoors to the classroom with a project that combined social studies, art, and (of course) coding! Together with a group of fourth graders, Melissa color coded Bit to visit a series of national and state parks.

Tell us about yourself! What do you teach, and what inspired you to become an educator?
I am an instructional technology teacher for grades K-5. I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was in first grade. I remember wanting to be like my first grade teacher because she always made me feel special and her classes were so much fun!

How did you come up with doing this state and national parks/landmarks project?
The fourth grade standard for Social Studies is the regions of the United States.  This project was a collaboration with the fourth grade team. We discussed wanting to make the end of the year projects come alive, and the students in fourth grade do a complete curriculum using the Ozobots. We decided to join up and have the students create a travel brochure of a National Park or Landmark of their choice and a 3D Ozobot [Color Code] map.

How did your kids pick which parks and landmarks to create?
They were told they needed to build the main attraction and two other features that are at the park/landmark. They were assigned a state to research different parks and landmarks. They were then able to choose what park or landmark they wanted to do within that state!

What materials did your class use to make it?

  • Cardboard Boxes
  • Clay
  • Playdough
  • Legos
  • Glue
  • Glue Gun
  • Construction Paper
  • Pillow Stuffing
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Pom Poms
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Wood Glue
  • Poster Board
  • Markers
  • Bit robots (Evo works too!)
  • Receipt Tape (for Color Code paths)

What was the most challenging part about making it, and how did you/the kids overcome the obstacle?
Our students do not receive art so the most challenging part of the whole project was the students being able to conceptualize how to build their projects and what specific locations they should build.

Can you share with us examples of how the kids used coding in creating the parks?
The kids were given the freedom to choose whatever coding they felt matched their project. I wish I had taken a video of their projects! One group figured out how to code it so the Ozobot would stop once it goes through the map. Another group of students had it rush into the park and then pause at the landmark before continuing on. As it was getting closer to the end of the map, it slowed down because it didn’t want to leave.

How else do you use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) in your curriculum?
Most of my curriculum that I do with the students is STEAM based. I want to give the students the opportunity to have freedom of choice, work collaboratively, and for it to be hands-on.

In addition to having a blast with Ozobots, what do you want kids who create a landmark project to take away from it?
I wanted them to learn to collaborate and persevere. It is so important for them to talk through the challenges that they are having to help build the different landmarks or sites.

Anything else you’d like to share with us about this project?
This lesson was a huge success. We are already talking about how we can make it better for next year. We want to redefine some of the parameters for this lesson, while still giving the students choice. We allowed a lot of freedom on what they built and how they programmed the Ozobot.

Do you have any other creations or projects we should check out?
This is the largest of the projects that we have done with the Ozobots. We kicked off our Ozobot course with the mystery code race. The students really loved doing that one.

Another project we did this past year was a “Six Flags Adventure”. They had pictures of different Six Flags rides and they needed to interact with each of the different rides.

Besides creating with code, what is your favorite hobby or interest to geek out about in your free time this summer?
In my free time this summer I was able to go to the Computer Science Teacher Association summit. It was so inspiring. I am hoping to revise some of my projects to be more STEAM/project-based learning. I want to find new ways to inspire these students in STEAM. Unrelated to school, I am looking forward to having some time to explore the country we live in, hang upside down from a Lyra, and enjoy my vacation with friends and family.  


Want to recreate the Ozobot National Parks Project in your classroom, makerspace, or at home? Check out the website Melissa made, which walks you through it step-by-step. Thanks Melissa, for giving everyone a great send-off from school into a #SummerofSTEAM! Follow Melissa on Twitter to see more of her classes’ creations. And remember…

Coding is Creative!
Tech skills alone don’t spur big ideas—creative visions do. That’s why education at home and in the classroom should span science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (think STEAM, not STEM). Whether you see yourself as a future artist, astronaut, or entrepreneur, our goal at Ozobot is to kick start your creativity and coding skills with playtime that strengthens your whole mind.

To learn more, explore Ozobot’s two ways to code:
OzoBlockly >
Color Codes >

For Educators and Students:
OzoBlockly Basic Training >
Color Codes Basic Training >
100+ STEAM Lessons >

Creator of the Month – Official Rules

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