What is Sphero?
The sphero branded product is a series of different controllable robotics that come in different shapes and sizes. The early generations of Sphero’s were similar to an indestructible remote controlled car. In recent years, they have included the ability to control these robots through drawing, block coding and coded language.
Does Sphero Belong in the Classroom?
The answer is absolutely yes. On the surface, you are getting a low risk, high valued reward experience where the students will be engaged and determined to reach success. The key is to make sure you get the right one for the classroom.
Which Sphero Makes Sense to Me?
Sphero makes some amazing products, which include may toy focused products. When looking at classroom options, there are specific Sphero tools that make sense. The toy based spheros do not have the desirable features similar to the education based Spheros.
What we suggest:
Our suggestion is to stick to 2 options. If you have the funds, the Sphero Sprk+ is the premium device. It is “relatively” unbreakable, waterproof, easy to clean and has the most functions. You may have seen activities of sphero’s dipped in paint for art projects, or the motor behind student designed vessels. In addition to these fun activities, when using the Sprk+, at the conclusion of the coded activity, the user receives valuable data related to speed and path success. On of our favorite ways to use our Sprk+ is as a egg drop tool. When dropping the sphero, it will give specific data related to the impact when it contacts the ground. No more arguments of who’s egg drop was the best any more!
If you are not worried about waterproofing, paintable, or excessively durability, the Sphero Mini may be your best option. Similar to the Sprk+, the Mini interacts with the coded programs in the same way it’s big brother does. The main benefit is that you can afford almost 3 Mini’s for the cost of 1 Sprk+. With the cheaper price, charging is a little more intensive (Sprk+ sits in a charging hub where the mini’s outer shell must be removed and directly plugged in). Overall, the mini robot, only slightly larger than a ping-pong ball is a rock solid option for the classroom. There are “mini”mal difference between the two products.
Check out this infographic on comparing the 2 robots.
What we would avoid:
With that being said, we are not particularly fond of the toy options sold by Sphero. While they are quality products, the students view these items as toys instead of an instructional tool. Our suggestion is that the Sphero Ollie (looks like a moon rover soup can) and Sprk Education/Sphero Original are not worth the savings. Such minimal differences such as manually connecting these devices instead of just launching the app worth it for us to spend few extra dollars on the upgraded version.
What Comes with a Sphero?
Based off which product you get, there will be a series of different items included. For the Sprk+, you will receive a charging caddie, with product specific USB cord, a roll of Maze tape, and a quick start guide. If you purchase the Mini, you will receive a USB cord that plugs into the internal part of the mini and a series of 3 cones/6 bowling pins for obstacles.
If you wish to purchase these, please check out our Coding & Robotics Page for all of our recommendations and links!
Check back for a future posts which covers the dynamic SpheroEDU app that is used to control these items!