I am an Orbotix Ambassador and this post is part of a sponsored campaign. I received compensation for my participation, but my review and opinions are my own.
Although it is a little bit of a blow to the ego, I have no doubt that both of my children will grow up to be far more technologically-skilled than I am. After all, right now I can still manage to muddle my way through using just about any device or application, but the way that they can both pick up gadgets or apps and instinctively know what to do will easily lead them far.
On top of that, when I grew up I had toys and games that were just that, toys and games. Kids these days? They have amazing, incredible, innovative things that are far more than just toys in that they are fun but also fully educational.
In fact, they are app-enabled robots that can change the way that children learn and play when they are the new Sphero SPRK Edition!
As the industry leader in Connected Play, Sphero (formerly known as Orbotix) is known for paving the future of fun. Unlike traditional toys, the robots and software they create provide ever-evolving experiences – changing the way people play, learn and explore by fusing emerging technology with the latest innovations in robotics.
After the success of Sphero 2.0, the original app-enabled robotic ball with a nearly-endless number of uses and abilities, Sphero has now launched Sphero SPRK (Schools, Parents, Robots, Kids) Edition and a corresponding SPRK app to even further change the way kids learn and play.
Together, Sphero SPRK Edition and the SPRK app are designed to inspire a love of robotics, coding, and STEM principles while teaching the power of cause, effect, and conditions in programming – all through play.
Consider that we don't know a whole lot about coding around here but are curious at heart, I was looking forward to seeing what my girls (and I) could do with the Sphero SPRK Edition.
Right out of the box Sphero makes it extremely easy to get started with their products. I simply removed the contents of the package (appreciating that there are multiple international plugs included for Sphero fans worldwide)...
...plugged in the charging base and set the SPRK right on top.
While the SPRK charged, it only took another minute to download the SPRK app (free in the App Store for iOS devices and Play Store for Android phones and tablets) and connect via Bluetooth.
Right away I was loving the fact that Sphero made the SPRK app accessible and appealing to all ages and abilities. For those of us who are beginners without any prior coding experience, the app allows an easy drag-and-drop method with visual blocks to control elements such as speed, color, spin and more.
Being able to combine simple commands in an endless number of ways has had both of my girls excited to see the SPRK roll, flip, spin, change colors and more as it follows their instructions. Just move the visual blocks around, add new ones, delete others, make alterations, etc, and hit Run to see this cute little robot continue to roll!
At the same time, the SPRK app is sophisticated enough to challenge seasoned programmers. Tapping "Code View" instantly switches the visual coding blocks to OVAL, Sphero's proprietary C-based language, so that young innovators can use this as a foundation to learn more about programming.
As well as being able to see programs in both visual blocks and OVAL, the Sphero SPRK Edition features a transparent shell that allows users to see the immediate connection between what they created and how their robot ball works and reacts.
But alongside the educational and technical side of SPRK, there is also a great deal of fun to be had.
This updated robot is compatible with all of the original Sphero games and apps, so discovering that we were able to switch it to "Drive" mode and use a virtual steering pad to zoom this ball around —up to 4.5mph— to play with (and only slightly terrorize) our cats has ensured that the laughter never ends!
At the end of the day, I have found myself completely impressed with Sphero SPRK Edition and am in awe of the way that it, coupled with the intelligent app, is so accessible to anyone and everyone on just about any terrain. Kids are able to use their imagination while being inspired, think deeper about what is possible when it comes to programming, and gain important future skills in a way that is not only approachable but also fun!
For tomorrow's inventors and innovators who would rather learn by doing than watching, SPRK Edition Sphero is available now at select retail partners, including Amazon for $129. The new SPRK app is free and is available in the App Store and from Google Play.
You can also keep up with all things Sphero by visiting Sphero.com and connecting with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+.