The Sphero Sprk is my favorite hands-on programming and robotics toy for kids! We reviewed the Sphero 2.0 last year, and this year we were sent the Sphero SPRK. As you can tell from the photo above, it was a BIG hit with the kids!
The Sphero SPRK takes everything I loved about the Sphero 2.0 and makes it better. This sturdy robot now has a see-through casing, which allows the kids to see some of the mechanics that make the robot work. The new SPRK app (free to download from both the Itunes and Google Play stores) uses a drag and drop style of programming that is so straightforward that even three-year-old Anna can use it with help from me or one of the older kids. My first grader, second grader, and fourth grader are able to do this completely on their own.
Of course, there is a lot of coding that is happening behind these simple tiles! See that circle in the top right corner of the above screen shot? If you tap it, you get to see the true program text, written in Sphero’s own C-based language called OVAL.
My husband is a computer scientist, and thanks to the Sphero SPRK app, my kids are finally understanding some of what he does! My husband’s students write code that controls little quadcopters that we sometimes take the kids to watch. Now they understand why that text on the screen impacts the way those quadcopters interact with their environment.
The kids also use Sphero to explore their environment. It can even go under water! The kids enjoy putting our Sphero SPRK (appropriately named “Tek” in different containers to see how the movement creates different noises when you combine it with different materials.
Nine-year-old Emma is a robot rights activist, and she likes to program Tek the Sphero SPRK to act happy or sad based on the types of environments the other kids put him in. This is considered a rich environment for Tek, if you were wondering.
I am an Orbotix Ambassador. This post is part of a sponsored campaign. I received compensation for my participation, but my review and opinions are my own.