Sphero’s cute robot car Indi is determined to teach kids programming


Sphero, a long-time maker of robotic toys, announced a robotic toy car designed to teach young children the basics of programming (Going through Gizmodo). It’s called the Sphero indi, and kids can use different colored silicone tiles to instruct the car, allowing them to create courtyards and mazes (and, hopefully, learn to logically solve problems. while doing so).

The indi uses a color sensor to check which tile it’s rolling on, with green tiles telling it to speed up, pink tiles telling it to turn left, purple tiles telling it to stop and celebrate, and and so on. To teach children how to create instructions for getting the indi from point A to point B, the toy comes with challenge cards that include designs with missing tiles, so they will need to determine which colored tile will help the car to reach its goal.

The indi can follow the thumbnail instructions without any connection to a phone or computer, but if your kids are up for a little more control, the Sphero Edu Jr app will let them use block-based language. to customize the behavior of the car. .

The app allows kids to change the way indi reacts to colors.
Image: Sphero

As someone who taught kids the essentials of programming, block-based coding, and having kids design paths for a character to follow all very familiar sounds: MIT Scratch programming language gives students a playground to understand how computers use logic, with lots of code-solving puzzle and maze-solving exercises. However, I also know that watching a character move on the screen is not as exciting for kids as watching an actual toy move around the house. Also, a leprechaun bumping into a virtual wall isn’t as fun as watching a toy crash into something or roll over a kitchen table.

A cool take on the guts of indi, and hopefully what you will see after a fall.
Image: Sphero

The indi is currently available for pre-order, Sphero estimating that delivery will begin in September. An individual student kit, which includes the car, case, 20 tiles, and 15 challenge cards, costs $ 125, while a class set which includes materials for eight students and includes a bulk cargo crate costs $ 1,200.

Robotic toys for educational purposes are nothing new: The Cozmo robot, formerly made by Anki, and now reiterated by Digital Dream Labs, used a Scratch-based programming language to give children control of a small robot resembling a tractor, Lego has its Boost and Mindstorms robot kits, and Fisher-Price has a Code-a-pillar somewhat terrifying which allows children to add and remove segments of a bug for instruction. Sphero himself even has his Mini robot, which offers more playstyle options, at just $ 50.

However, like most other toys, the Sphero Mini (and its big brother bolt) requires the use of a tablet, phone or computer, which is not the case for indi. For parents looking to take their kids away from the iPad a bit, indi could be a way to do just that, while still providing a learning experience for them.

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