I have a confession. Since my sons have such strict screen time limits (for my own sanity and theirs) I sometimes worry that they are missing out on educational opportunities that would help them learn real life skills like coding necessary for computer science. Sometimes it is a hard line to navigate but the key is that we focus on STEAM activities. STEAM education emphasizes the integration of technology with science, math, engineering, as well as art + design, so kids never rely on the screen as the primary tool for learning.
Be sure to read all the way to the end for your chance to win a SPRK+ Robot of your own!
This post is sponsored by Sphero Edu App
So I was delighted to give my boys the opportunity to experiment at home with the SPRK+ Robot and Sphero Edu app. The Sphero Edu program allows kids to experiment with coding, robotics and technology with hands-on activities. In other words, kids don't just stare at a screen to learn code. They go beyond code while they build, engineer, and even create art! The Sphero Edu program is an exciting way to learn because it emphasizes every letter in STEAM. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, and Math. The Sphero Edu program uses the SPRK+ Robot, which is an app-enabled robotic sphere, equipped with Bluetooth SMART. It is even waterproof and shatterproof so kids can really go to town with their experiments. The Sphero Edu app and SPRK+Robot are classroom ready and designed to be used by students of all ages. It is perfect for collaborative educational projects but we tried it out in our living room.
After downloading the Sphero Edu app and charging up the SPRK+ Robot, my 8 year old and I decided our first experiment would be coding SPRK+ to navigate a maze. We used the maze tape in our SPRK+ kit, conveniently marked with centimeters, to create a short pathway with turns and my son added in some blocks alongside the path. However, he quickly decided it would be even more fun put blocks inside the maze as additional foils for the robot! And, of course, once he got going he realized getting SPRK+ to ram into the blocks was even more fun. (That's my boy!)
My 8 year old and I decided to start out with DRAW, since we were total newbies. You can see in the photo above, the you simply use your finger to draw a path. But it's actually not as easy as it sounds. It requires trial and error to get the measurements right, and this is where the grid on the app and the measurements on the maze tape really came in handy. By using his math skills, he was about to work out the difficulties. As a parent, it was great to see his mind working hard as he strived to get the code just right. He also loved changing the colors of SPRK+! I love that a tech project got him thinking about patterns of colors.
Later on when my 12 year old experimented with SPRK+, he was easily able to start coding with the BLOCKS program on the Sphero Edu app.
Both my boys have already started eagerly discussing the experiments they want to try with the SPRK+ Robot, especially my younger son who watched the video with me (see the video for yourself, below!) and really wants to make a SPRK+ powered boat. Personally, I'd love to try creating art with the SPRK+ Robot by sloshing it in paint and coding a design! (I did say it was for all ages!) After trying it out, and listening to his ideas, it is clear how well suited the technology is for classroom settings.
The Sphero Edu program goes beyond code. It incorporates robotics and technology with collaborative STEAM activities in a way that students of all ages and levels can immediately jump into. It is truly real life experience. In addition, the Sphero Edu app includes features that allow kids to share their experiments with others. Educators can get the app and multiple SPRK+ Robots for their classroom. Sphero makes it easy with a specially designed teachers' guide.
Learn more about how Sphero Edu can enhance classroom learning and experience Sphero Edu for yourself:
- Visit the Sphero Edu website
- Download the app
- Check out Sphero's social media sites where you will see all sorts of creative and innovative ways kids can use SPRK+ Robot and the Sphero Edu app: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube
- Read the Sphero blog on Medium.
- Watch the video for a quick peek to learn how you can use SPRK+ Robot.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sphero. The opinions and text are all mine.