Learning to Code Through Connected Toys: Sphero & Texas Instruments

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Student started their New Year’s applying what they learned about binary code, algorithms, and computer programming to code connected toys and TI-Rovers through an array of challenges and obstacles. Take a minute and watch the program highlight video above.


Rachel Gorsuch, a Math and Data Science Teacher at Teays Valley High School and T3 Regional Instructor for Texas Instruments, visited our program to challenge students to solve open-ended problems by programming the TI-Innovator Rover, a robotic vehicle, through a maze.

Graphing calculators can open new channels for inquiry, exploration and connection as students use the built-in TI-Basic coding language or Python (on equipped handhelds) to program the TI-Innovator components. Students program rovers to put math and science in motion, adding a physical dimension to verbal, symbolic and graphic representations.


Students coded connected drones from Spheros, a robotics company, best known for its programmable robots and connected toys. Students coded both, Sphero RVRs and Sphero Bolt, customizable robots that can be programmed and controlled using various platforms like Scratch, Sphero Edu App, Raspberry Pi, or Arduino.

Our program used Sphero EDU free app available in both Google Play or the App Store. Sphero EDU allows users to program using block code or text.

Sphero is designed to be educational, allowing users to learn about robotics, coding, and electronics in a hands-on way. The Sphero RVR is equipped with various sensors, motors, and expansion ports, making it suitable for a wide range of projects and applications.

You can typically buy Sphero products, including Sphero RVRs, from various retailers both online and in physical stores. Some popular places to purchase Sphero robots include:

  1. Official Sphero website: The official Sphero website often offers a wide range of products directly from the manufacturer.
  2. Online retailers: Websites like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target often carry Sphero products in their inventory.
  3. Specialty robotics or educational stores: Some specialty stores focus on robotics, STEM education, or educational toys, and they may carry Sphero products.
  4. Electronics stores: Stores like Apple Stores, Fry’s Electronics, or Micro Center might have Sphero products available for purchase.

Be Creative, Keep Coding.