How Toys Are Changing the Education Landscape
31 Oct 2014
Many studies show that the toys young people play with inspire what they become. If they play with Guitar Hero they might become a musician. If they play with Erector Sets they might get interested in engineering. But some of these studies also note gender-bias in the toy industry and the diminishing attention span of children. Kids are used to instant gratification and often get bored with toys that only have one use. What if we could avoid gender-bias, keep kids engaged, and help them learn all at the same time? That’s what we are trying to do with Sphero- lead a new category of robots and toys that are fun to play with, but that also bring out the fun in learning.
Changing the way people think about robots.
How do you change the way people think about robotics? The first thing we did was change the way it looks. Typically a robots’ form factor consists of anthropomorphized parts – arms, legs, and a head. Instead, we took a simple form factor and made it approachable – the ball. Everyone recognizes the shape and almost immediately associates it with fun. When developing Sphero, we also explored many ways to play with the software. One of these was through an app called MacroLab that allows you to program Sphero. The simplicity of MacroLab combined with the unique form factor of Sphero ended up being a great way to teach kids about programming and robotics in a fun way. We hope that Sphero will continue to remove barriers for kids (and adults) to connect with robots, get curious about how they work, and maybe even inspire what they become.
Using Play to Teach
More and more often, play is being incorporated into classrooms in order to keep kids engaged and to teach more effectively. Supporting this type of learning environment is something we take seriously. That’s why we created SPRK – Schools, Parents, Robots, Kids. It is a community-driven initiative that supports play-based learning using Sphero. We provide free downloadable lessons as well as a forum for anyone in the community to draw from others’ experiences. SPRK lessons teach kids the basic concepts of programming, robotics, and math – but that’s just the beginning. The SPRK community has created all kinds of fun ways to teach kids using Sphero and we can’t wait to see what else they come up with.
You can find out more about the SPRK program at gosphero.com/edu.