Sphero Robots and Character Arcs in AP English

(AP English Grade 11)


Our Grade 11 AP English students were entranced when they were given the opportunity to develop ‘character arcs’ for the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, using Sphero robots.

The task involved tracing the characters’ emotional development throughout the play by coding a Sphero robot. The various arcs are drawn by attaching a small 3D printed wagon to the robot, which drags a koki pen. At various points in the character’s development, students are tasked with choosing a word to denote the main emotions, thus creating an ‘emotions trail’ which becomes intertwined with other’s characters’ movements, as each arc is drawn on an enlarged character chart.

Students are given carte blanche as to how they want to illustrate their character’s journey, as long as they can explain their choices and demonstrate how the character’s moods are influenced by events in the play. The robots can spin, change colours, move quickly or slowly, stop to observe, and even interact with other robots, using various coded moves.

Students bring together their knowledge of the characters, the events that the characters experience, and the robots coded journeys. The stories of Blanche, Stanley, Stella and Mitch are drawn to illustrate the complex actions, reactions and interactions of this timeless story of love and abuse.



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