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August 05, 2015      

Just in time for the new school year, Sphero has introduced a new version of its popular robot toy, Sphero SPRK, that is geared towards robotics education and boosting kids’ interest in the space.

Sphero SPRK is pretty similar to the Sphero 2.0, but there are a couple differences, most noticeably the fact that it’s see-through to give kids an inside look at how it works.

But the real intelligence comes from the new SPRK App, which is Android, iOS and Windows compatible, that allows kids to use Sphero’s C-based language called OVAL and program the robot to do what they want. The app uses block-based building that program SPRK to roll, spin, and color change.

Photos: Meet Sphero SPRK

For more advanced users, the SPRK App features a text-based code viewer that displays the code for you to use this as a foundation for learning even more about programming.

And if you’re not interested in programming or just want to take a break, SPRK works like the other versions of Sphero. If you have your phone in a horizontal orientation, SPRK will switch to drive mode and will travel up to 4.5mph for up to an hour on a single charge.

Robotics is starting to play a bigger role in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. Here’s why robots like Sphero SPRK are so important: 15% of the current 15 million job openings in the U.S. are in the tech field, but only 16 percent of high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career.

The number of jobs requiring a STEM background is only going to increase, yet we can’t let the number of qualified candidates decrease. In 2015, $100 million in federal grants were made available through the White House initiative TechHire. This supports a potential workforce by providing training and certification for those looking to enter a technical field or career. More and more high schools and universities across the country are implementing STEM education training, courses, and certification programs.

Robots like Sphero SPRK can only help. Sphero SPRK is available for $129.99.

Sphero SPRK Specs
iOS, Android, Windows compatible
Goes over 4.5 mph
Durable polycarbonate shell
Built-in LED glow Bluetooth connection (100 foot range)
Inductive charging (over 1 hour of play on a full charge)
Over 30 apps available
Hackable and programmable internal robot
App updates that introduce new features and gameplay
Automatic firmware updates