Sphero SPRK Edition Review, A Ball That Teaches Programming?

Sphero SPRK

Balls are great, there is no arguing that.  I have seen countless kids have endless hours of fun throwing, bouncing and catching balls of all sizes and shapes.  What I have not seen a lot of is balls that teach kids logic, programming, the power of cause and effect and the nuisances of a nested If/Then Loop.  Well, unless you consider the “If I hit my brother in the head with this football, then will I get in trouble?” to be cause and effect programming :)

The Sphero SPRK (School, Parents, Robots, Kids) Edition takes the very popular Sphero app controlled ball and turns it into a true robotic programming experience for kids of all ages.  No computer necessary, use the SPRK app on any iOS or Android device and program your transparent Sphero to do complex maneuvers.

Please watch our full video review of the Sphero SPRK Edition -

Yes, Yes a Ball Can Be An Advanced Robot

The Sphero looks like a simple ball – not a robot.  Don’t let Sphero SPRK’s transparent good looks fool you, it most definitely is a robot.  Using the simple visual block based programming language, kids can quickly start programming Sphero and most importantly, immediately have fun. In watching my kids play with Sphero SPRK, this was the most important factor.

Within 5 minutes of having Sphero SPRK out of the box they were changing the color of the LEDs and having the ball roll all around.  In other words – they were playing and having fun.  Because the Sphero is a ball, it is a totally not intimidating  and such an easily accessible robot to kids of all ages.

Sphero SPRK

As my kids have done Scratch before, the block based programming made total sense to them.  While they started with the basics, the quickly discovered some of the more advanced controls like OnCollision, OnFreefall and OnLand…really, how could you not have fun with a robot that has commands like OnCollision?

The Old Fashioned Geek Dad In Me Loves the Oval Code

It seems like every toy released today claims to embrace the STEM principals.  Yes, us parents are suckers for anything that says STEM because we want our kids to learn as they play.  Unfortunately, I feel sometimes things are over simplified and made so easy, I wonder what the kids are really learning.  Everything is a graphic and a block now.  What ever happened to good old fashioned code?

I am super happy to report that C based code does make an appearance  in the SPRK app!  After the kids create a program using the visual blocks, they can click an icon and immediately see the OVAL text based code.  I love this!  Now kids can see how those visual blocks translate into a C based programming language.

Can I Get An Amen For Encouraging Kids To Break The Rules

If we want our kids to grow up and have wonderful and creative solutions to the world’s problems, we need to teach them to stop thinking like us.  We need new ideas, new approaches.  Yes, we need to encourage our kids to break the rules and teach us for a change.

The Sphero SPRK is all about breaking the rules, hacking, experimenting, failing and learning.  There is very little in the way of a manual, because there is no right way to use the Sphero SPRK.  Kids should start playing with the ball and see what happens.

If you are looking for a toy for your kids that will keep them entertained, while also teaching them about programming and logic, the Sphero SPRK is a wonderful choice.

More Information:

The Sphero SPRK sells for $129.99 at Sphero.  The SPRK App is free and available for Android and iOS.

Follow the Sphero Social Channels to learn more – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest

Dan NesselDan Nessel spends entirely too much time playing with toys and gadgets. As a senior editor at DadDoes.Com, Dan has reviewed over 700 toys and gadgets and still can’t believe he doesn’t have the flying car he was promised as a kid.

Disclosure: 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…. unless the Sphero has taken over my mind and is telling me everything to write…but I don’t think that has happened…yet.

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