indi At-Home Learning Kit from Sphero
We’ve had the good fortune to receive a number of Sphero products over the years, including the Sphero 2.0, Sphero Mini and Sphero BOLT. Most recently, we were sent the indi At-Home Learning Kit – a programming robot for kids aged 4+ that allows you to create pathways for the indi robot car, and learn programming logic in a screen-free experience that can be tailored to your wants in more ways than one – hence the ‘indi’ name, we’re guessing.
The fun thing about the way the indi works is that you learn as you go, and you can start playing/learning instantly – there's no setup required, no pairing with another device. In essence, this robot is a variation on the robots that kids can program directions into using various methods, sending the little robot on a journey around your table or a set-down maze. In the case of the indi, these directions are delivered using different coloured cards; each card instructs the robot car to stop, go or change direction in different ways, and the first step of the fun is to use trial and error to work out what all these directions are.
This puzzle-solving approach, rather than just looking up what each card does (also an option), gets the brain moving and the memory working quicker, meaning it’s both more fun and more useful! Once your kids know what the cards do, they can explore how lining these up in different combinations creates different paths and routes for indi. This hands-on game teaches early programming concepts (card = instruction; instruction + instruction = outcome etc.), and once these concepts have sunken in, you can then go to the next level: hopping onto the Sphero Edu Jr app to re-program responses to the different coloured tiles. This can add new movements, speeds, lights, sounds, and even animated movements like a little dance!
You’re even able to make your own instruction tiles. To enable this, the Sphero website lists every colour that the indi knows to respond to, along with just about every reference code you can think of for identifying the exact colour tone.
The extremely clever thing about this robot is how carefully it has been geared towards some specific points in learning, and yet how incidental these seem when playing with it. Suitable for ages as young as 4+, it has been billed the most approachable entry-level learning robot.
Whilst working out the ins and outs of how these cards work is fun for one group of people, for others, it’s more helpful to be told. This is why the included Beginner’s Guide to Programming Booklet comes with a guide to every colour tile, along with a collection of puzzles and challenges designed to further expand learning and giving indi even more playability.
This is an extremely clever little robot, teaching your kids how to think about programming, maths, problem solving, and logic without overtly bogging them down with any of those. It’s easy to get started with, but gives the brain a fun work-out as you use it. The complexity of what your kid gets out of it scales up with the complexity of the mazes and paths they’re able to design, meaning it has a broad range of appropriate ages. All in all, I love this idea, and this seems like one of the most fun and intuitive robots from Sphero so far.
Ready to play
Simple to use
Has expansion puzzles and challenges
Teaches programming logic on the sly
Optional extra in-app programming
Can custom the instruction cards
Comes with plenty of support materials