Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

SPRK Lightning Lab is an app that lets kids program their Sphero robots from a tablet or phone. Beginning coders use block-based programming to direct and control their robot. A text-based code viewer is also available so kids can see how their block code translates into actual code. This gives experienced programmers more flexibility and is a scaffold to help students scale up their coding skills.

Price: Free, Paid

Grades: 3-8

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Block- and text-based code and an engaging community make programming accessible to all.

Cons: The learning curve may frustrate some kids, and teachers will have to be creative to fit this tool into their curricula.

Bottom line: Hub for Sphero robots draws crafty kids who love making into coding, and it empowers them to be collaborators.

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.