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Painting pictures and building boat-robots with SPRK+ and Lightning Lab (pictures)

Sphero's updated educational coding robot gets hardware and software improvements, and we got to play with it for an afternoon.

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Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

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The Sphero SPRK+ is a programmable robot and a toy. A follow-up to last year's Sphero SPRK, it's aimed at schools and educational programs...or, parents and kids who want to explore some problem solving and coding.

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In the box, you get the durable, waterproof Sphero SPRK+ robot, a wireless charger, and a roll of tape for making mazes for the robot to roll through (the goal is to program a path for the robot to travel using Sphero's Lightning Lab app).

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Yes, it looks like BB-8. That's because Sphero also makes the BB-8 robot toy. The SPRK+ works the same, rolling around by using your phone or tablet as a remote control.

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Sphero's Lightning Lab app has hundreds of activities, including lesson plans created by members of the community (anyone can submit ideas for approval).

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SPRK+ can be programmed using basic commands to roll around, change color, and spin.

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Programs can be converted to Oval, Sphero's version of the C programming language.

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The SPRK+ is pretty much the same as last year's SPRK, which was also transparent. This one has a more scratch-resistant outer shell, and adds Bluetooth Smart for easier tap-to-pair connecting with a phone or tablet.

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Painting with Sphero? Yes, you can. The SPRK+ (and previous Spheros) are waterproof.

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Trying the remote to make some robot-generated painting. Not programming, but entertaining.

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A build-your-own chariot challenge: Community activities encourage designing vehicles for Sphero to fit in.

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Swimming in a custom-made boat frame. When the SPRK+ is in water, it spins and glides.

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It charges wirelessly via a cradle charger, and lasts for about an hour between charges.

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Making a maze out of tape for the SPRK+ to navigate, programming the app to tell it where to roll.

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There are several accessories already available, like this Lego-compatible chariot.

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The Nubby cover offers better traction, and is helpful for messy things like painting.

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The Turbo cover helps with faster handling.

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Is this the perfect programming toy? There are plenty of other options, but the SPRK+ is affordable and still a lot of fun as a remote-control robot even if you never try the extra activities.

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