Sphero : Integrating Play-Based Learning in Classrooms for STEM Education

Michelle Acaley, Senior Director of Product and Content, SpheroMichelle Acaley, Senior Director of Product and Content
We have entered the new norm. Schools are adopting unique teaching and learning approaches to prepare students for a world where technology is omnipresent. From this perspective, educational systems are now increasingly redefining their existing curriculum to integrate STEAM learning, educational robotics, and critical-thinking skills linked to developing creativity and innovation.

“We empower teachers with the right educational tools to inspire their students by offering a fun, comprehensive approach to teaching STEAM, robotics, and computer science for kids grades PK-12,” says Michelle Acaley, Senior Director of Product and Content.

An industry leader in providing edtech programmable robots, and STEAM-based educational tools, Sphero, working hand-in-hand with educators worldwide, strives to transform the way students learn, create, and invent through coding, science, music, and arts. The company’s ecosystem of tools, content, and curriculum provides students, teachers, and parents with all the learning and coding abilities to solve complex challenges at school, home, and beyond.

Despite the growing research interest and efforts, not enough attention has been paid to essential factors like guidance and collaborative frameworks, which are significant elements of the STEAM-based curricula. As schools break away from traditional education models, teacher training to develop the necessary skills and confidence levels to implement state-of-the-art applications in a creative approach effectively remains a challenge. Furthermore, teachers likely aren’t fully aware of the available robotic design technologies and principles to make the right choices for their students. Many educators introduced initiatives and certification programs for teachers and students ranging from block-based programming activities to kinesthetic lessons to address these challenges. However, these initiatives are expensive and time-intensive programs for schools that cannot be conducted regularly.

Sphero’s approachable, easy-to-learn, introductory programmable robots teach students fundamental STEM concepts through play-based learning and educational STEAM activities. The company’s ‘indi’ robot was designed to introduce an easy entry point for early learners (ages 4-8) to the fundamentals of computational thinking, problem-solving, STEAM, and computer science principles. indi offers an unplugged programming experience with an onboard color sensor to encourage open-ended, imaginative play-based learning with real-life scenarios as students build custom mazes and solve puzzles. Students can also access coding options such as a block-based programming canvas in the free Sphero Edu Jr app. Once learners move on to more advanced robots, Sphero BOLT allows students to express inventive ideas and experience the power of programming.


We empower teachers with the right educational tools to inspire their students by offering a fun, comprehensive approach to teaching STEAM, robotics, and computer science for kids grades PK-12

Packed with plenty of programmable sensors and a colorful LED light matrix, Sphero BOLT is brought to life through simple draw programming, block-based, or basic JavaScript code. Sphero BOLT was originally designed for educators to teach computer science and STEM subjects in the classroom but easy enough to use to help parents in guiding the same quality of learning at home. Eventually, as students aim to take their programming to the next level—Sphero offers ‘RVR’ an all-terrain, highly programmable, infinitely-expandable robot. As the most complex, expandable robot on the market, RVR comes with customizable features and capabilities for coders of all skill levels. Using its 4-pin UART expansion port and onboard power, users can attach and run third-party hardware like a Raspberry Pi and Arduino or go even further using Sphero’s public SDK library.

Additionally, to reinforce STEAM principles and creativity through hands-on learning, Sphero recently introduced the littleBits STEAM+Kit to make the engineering design process fun and iterative for students. littleBits are easy easy-to-use electronic and magnetic building blocks that snap together to create complex circuits in seconds.

A key aspect of Sphero is the use of cross-disciplinary collaboration and a customer-centric approach in its product development process to ensure its robots and apps have a desired, relevant impact in the real world. In doing so, Sphero works closely with educators to incorporate their feedback into products in the development phase. Every product created by Sphero is designed with the classroom in mind. For instance, to improve classroom management efficiency, the company provides options for teachers like the Sphero BOLT Power Pack, a case capable of charging 15 robots at the same time, and durable storage containers to organize littleBits. Moreover, Sphero offers teachers hundreds of free CSTA and NGSS standards-aligned activities, educator guides, and self-service resources in the Sphero Edu app and littleBits Classroom for different grades, subjects, and learning pathways contributed by both Sphero in-house experts and its global community of educators.

Founded in 2010 in Boulder, Colorado, Sphero has since reached over 40,000 educators, 20,000 education institutions, and millions of students worldwide, with additional offices in Greenville, Texas, and Hong Kong. Since its inception, Sphero has strived to be at the forefront of delivering computer science, STEM, and robotics education to students from third through 12th grade. The company first started with a programmable round robot ball that evolved into what Sphero BOLT is today; it is the number one robot used in schools. With the launch of indi, Sphero believes it has created a tool that will inspire younger learners in pre-K through second grade to experiment, discover, and solve problems in real-time. Soon, the company plans to extend its range of programmable robots, modular circuits, and play-based STEAM activities to cover the entire PK-12 market, including core subject areas such as Mathematics, Science, and Literacy. “Our goal is to meet the needs of every student in PK-12 and become the number one provider for computer science, STEM and robotics,” concludes Michelle.

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10 Hottest K 12 Solution Companies- 2021
Sphero

Company
Sphero

Headquarters
Boulder, Colorado

Management
Michelle Acaley, Senior Director of Product and Content

Description
An industry leader in providing EdTech programmable robots, and hands-on, educational solutions, Sphero is transforming K-12 education with accessible tools that encourage exploration, imagination, and perseverance through STEAM and computer science. With the help of educators around the world, Sphero empowers learners of all backgrounds and abilities to discover their interests and passions while equipping them with the skills they need to be the world’s future Changemakers