Sphero’s programmable robots are an increasingly common sight in today’s tech infused classrooms and makerspaces. They are a fun and engaging way for students to learn coding, problem solving, and critical thinking. They encourage creativity and are a great collaborative activity for sparking authentic learning discussions. Best of all, they can be controlled with iPhones, iPads, Android and even Chromebooks.
Sphero has several different robots to choose from, so in this guide I am going to run through all the current models and give you ideas on how you can use them in the classroom. (Prices are listed in US dollars. This post may contain affiliate product links.)
Sphero Mini ($49.99)
The Sphero Mini is the smallest robot in the lineup, so it makes sense that it is also the cheapest. It is about the size of a golf ball and Sphero claims it is the world’s smallest robotic ball. Despite it’s size, the Sphero Mini has a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and LED lights. It runs for about 45 minutes before it needs charging, and is available in five different colors. The Sphero Mini comes with 3 mini cones and six mini bowling pins, but additional accessories are available. These include:
- Sphero Mini ($49.99)
- Sphero Mini Pins & Cones Accessory Pack ($9.99)
- Sphero Mini Shells ($12.99 each)
Learn more about the Sphero Mini in the video below:
The Ollie is like Sphero’s faster and more adventurous cousin. It comes with textured tires that grip well on any surface. This means it can potentially be used in more places without fear of slipping or spinning out on very smooth or very rugged surfaces. It moves at up to seven feet per second and connects to smart devices via Bluetooth. Ollie has interchangeable tires and hubcaps, and will last up to an hour on a single charge. A stylish black option, called Darkside, is also available.
Sphero SPRK+ ($129.99)
The Sphero SPRK+ was built specifically for schools. It’s an app enabled robot that is essentially a bigger version of the Sphero Mini. It has a transparent, scratch resistant, shell that lets you see the inner workings of the robot. The shell is also waterproof. The Sphero SPRK+ has programmable sensors, LED lights and should last for around an hour before it needs recharging. Like other Spheros, it connects to Android or iOS devices via Bluetooth, and the apps will let you control the ball or program the device with drag and drop coding blocks. A number of accessories are available, they include:
- Sphero SPRK+ ($129.99)
- A variety of grippy Sphero Covers ($11+)
- Sphero Terrain Park ($19.95)
- Sphero Chariot ($34.95)
Hard Storage Carrying Case ($24.95)
Star Wars: R2-D2, R2-Q5, BB-8, BB9-E (pricing varies)
Are these the droids you’re looking for? Sphero has a number of Star Wars themed robots that you will recognize from the popular sci-fi series of the same name. All four of these robots have the same kinds of features that you find in the other Sphero products, but they come with an extra helping of personality that makes these droids hard to resist! Here’s where you can get one for your classroom:
Watch the droids in action in the Star Wars themed video below:
Using Sphero in the Classroom
If you haven’t used Sphero before, be sure to check out the Sphero EDU Educator’s Guide. It’s like a teacher’s manual for the different ways you can use Sphero products, and it includes help with things like classroom management and with the mobile apps. You should also visit the Sphero EDU Activities page. It has projects for your class from Sphero, as well as by other educators who have submitted their own lesson plans. These activities are a great way to learn how to use Sphero in the classroom and will often spark ideas that you may want to adapt for meeting your own instructional goals.
Extra Savings for Buying in Bulk
If you are looking to buy a class set, or want to purchase say 12 or more Sphero products, then savings are available direct from Sphero’s EDU store. You can also request a custom quote by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.