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SmartGurlz – Maria Review by Renita Kuehner

Choon’s Design, Inc.
48813 West Road
Wixom, MI 48393

There are so many ways to make learning fun. Thousands of educational toys flood the market every year. But are they truly educational? We were able to review a fun, new educational toy; Maria from SmartGurlz. 

SmartGurlz offers a line of programmable dolls that ride Siggy robots. Maria is one of the girls from that line of products. My daughter, Lydia, was so excited when she opened that box and saw that bright yellow scooter and Maria. But in the back of my mind I could only wonder, how many batteries? How is this going to be educational? How long will this “toy” keep her attention?

After putting in batteries, our next task was to download the Sugarcoded app, which is how you control Maria’s Siggy robot scooter. Be sure to check your device for the operating system requirements. We were able to download the app to both my newer iPhone and Lydia’s Android based newer cell phone. Make sure you have Maria on at this point, the app will detect your robot. Maria does take 9V batteries (which are not included). I plan to order the rechargeable pack from the Smartgurlz website as Lydia has gone through a lot of batteries.

Here’s where the educational side of Maria and her Siggy robot comes into play. Your child is the one that controls the Siggy scooter Maria is riding. You have several different options to control Maria with either drawing paths or using drag and drop coding. You can make her move around in any direction, dance or the headlight on her scooter come on. Made for beginners through advanced coders, it is very easy to find your child’s current coding skill level so they do not get frustrated as they start their play.

As your child’s coding skills improve, the Sugarcoded app also has a section that gives them extra challenges in moving their doll around. This involves some math skills at older levels and figuring some percentages. This is the more advanced side, and provided Lydia with several challenges to figure her speed and also distances to enter into her coding map. And here I was, worried about the educational side of what I thought would just be a toy!

The Sugarcoded app also includes digital books that go with each Smartgurlz doll that has been created. These were fun to read and really encourages girls to get into science. This doesn’t happen to be something we struggle with around here, since all of our girls love to code and do S.T.E.M. projects, but if your daughter thinks coding is nothing but a bunch of boy type computer games, then Smartgurlz will definitely correct that thinking.

Lydia has taken several in-classroom coding classes, which she enjoyed (and we have spent hundreds of dollars on). But she would get bored building a starship type game, and wouldn’t keep going on the work. With Maria and her Siggy robot scooter, Lydia has continued learning her programming and advancing her skills in this area. What a fun way to do your math and science!

Smartgurlz has several doll styles to choose from. We have Maria (Math Genius) with her yellow Siggy scooter. But they also have June (Chemistry Star), Zara (Tech Wizard), and Jen (Mechanical Engineer). Each Smartgurlz has their own unique talent and skill. Lydia’s interest was encouraged in each profession as she was able to read all the books through the Sugarcoded app.

The price for a Smartgurlz doll and robot scooter is extremely reasonable, and very worth the money! Surprise your future scientist or programmer with this new and innovative toy! Lydia loves playing with Maria, and gets her out all the time. This is the reason I need to invest in the rechargeable battery pack. They do recommend this rechargeable pack. She easily goes through a couple regular 9V batteries a week with constant play. The worry I had about her getting bored with this “toy” has gone away! What a great addition to our classroom and her “toy box”.

-Product review by Renita Kuehner, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2018