For families looking for constructive ways to keep children stimulated and engaged during the Covid-19 school shutdown, Sharmi Albrechtsen, founder of SmartGurlz, is showcasing her line of groundbreaking toys that use an award-winning robotics platform to teach basic coding skills to girls as young as six.
Sharmi appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and beat out 40,000 other entrepreneurs, negotiating with guest "shark" Richard Branson, before closing a deal with Daymond John.
Sharmi Albrechtsen says: "Many girls' toys lag behind in the development of spatial skills, hands-on problem-solving skills, and confidence with coding and computer science. These are exactly the skills that SmartGurlz aims to develop.”
The SmartGurlz line of interactive, self-balancing robots and dolls are controlled with the SugarCoded App than can be downloaded onto an IOS or android phone or tablet that once downloaded requires no Wi-Fi, just Bluetooth.
A full, step-by-step tutorial teaches basic coding strategies so young girls can manoeuvre the toys around obstacle courses of their own design. With several levels of learning and challenges, the toy keeps kids occupied several hours a week for four to six months.
The company is also offering a free weekly webinar for parents and kids affected by Covid-19 that includes getting started, tips and tricks, and weekly home assignments.
Girls playing with SmartGurlz products learn three key concepts:
- Spatial Reasoning: Girls learn how to direct/orient their robots in new environments and interpret maps.
- Computer Programming: Girls learn to program their robots using our kid-friendly coding App called SugarCoded.
- Storytelling & Problem Solving: Girls learn to tell stories and solve missions via coding.
In 2015, Sharmi started SmartGurlz after becoming frustrated with the lack of STEM toys available for her daughter. The SmartGurlz flagship product, Siggy, was the first robotics product designed specifically for girls. More than 30,000 girls have been educated with SmartGurlz. SmartGurlz partners include BlackGirlsCode, Girl Scouts of America and Morrison Mentors.
SmartGurlz recently expanded its product line to include Smart Buddies – a joint-venture with Pitsco Education – which features a diverse set of characters suitable for both girls and boys, targeted towards schools.
The SmartGurlz product line also includes an e-book series available through the App that focuses on the everyday adventures of four talented young women studying at the fictional New York Institute of Technology.