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A young girl uses an iPad to play with the Sphero Mini Golf robot. The golf ball moves by a coded path, or different drive modes in an app.
(Sphero Inc./Courtesy photo
A young girl uses an iPad to play with the Sphero Mini Golf robot. The golf ball moves by a coded path, or different drive modes in an app. (Sphero Inc./Courtesy photo

Sphero Inc., a Boulder-based robotics company, aims to give young students their best shot at learning though a mini golf robot.

The company announced today that it added Sphero Mini Golf to its Mini Sports collection, a programmable robot geared toward at-home and classroom learning.

What Sphero Mini Golf aces is its wide-range of capabilities, said Amanda Vaden, integrated communications manager for Sphero.

The robot is a round ball with a removable shell that looks like a golf ball with colorful LED lights. But rather than hitting it with a golf club, it’s controlled through drive modes. By using an app, users can control the ball with a virtual joystick, a virtual “slingshot” or tilting a device.

Do-it-yourself golf courses built with at-home objects can be navigated through a coded path in the Sphero Edu app for iOS, Android and Kindle computer devices. The app has guided STEAM activities and lessons.

“What we really liked about this product, especially today, is that it is inspiring kids to go out and create their own golf courses,” Vaden said.

The golf ball bot can also be used as a controller for the Sphero Play app, which is on the Apple, Google Play and Kindle store. By moving and rotating the ball by hand, users can play different video games, including car racing or a game similar to the classic-arcade game “Asteroids.”

Vaden said that Sphero’s mission is to prepare “the creators of tomorrow,” as science and technology careers are lucrative and growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in computer and information technology occupations are projected to expand faster than the average of other industries. It’s estimated to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029.

As of May 2019, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $88,240, according to BLS. That more than doubles the median annual wage for all occupations of $39,810.

Vaden said STEM, or STEAM, education is “future-proofing kids to be ready for the careers of tomorrow.”

“But what you don’t necessarily hear all the time is that there’s a lot of softer skills that are cultivated through STEM education as well,” she added.

Vaden said that STEM learning also helps grow social skills in “the Four Cs,” a common term among educators that stands for critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating and collaborating.

© 2020 BizWest Media LLC

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