Parents looking for constructive ways to keep their young daughters stimulated and engaged during the COVID-19 school shutdown need look no further. SmartGurlz founder Sharmi Albrechtsen recently beat out 40,000 other entrepreneurs on ABC's “Shark Tank” and negotiated with guest "shark” Richard Branson before closing a deal with Daymond John on her line of groundbreaking toys that use an award-winning robotics platform to teach basic coding skills to girls as young as 6.
"Many girls' toys lag behind in the development of spatial skills, hands-on problem solving skills, and confidence with coding and computer science,” explains SmartGurlz founder Sharmi Albrechtsen. "These are exactly the skills that SmartGurlz aims to develop,” the Indian American entrepreneur adds.
The SmartGurlz line of unique, 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 maneuver 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 4-6 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, according to a press release:
1. Spatial Reasoning. Girls learn how to direct/orient their robots in new environments and interpret maps.
2. Computer Programming. Girls learn to program their robots using our kid-friendly coding App called SugarCodedTM.
3. Storytelling & Problem Solving. Girls learn to tell stories and solve missions via coding.
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.
Adjusting to a new normal, parents can use this extra time at home to inspire the female tech leaders of tomorrow with toys that integrate the power of play with the power of technology.
Albrechtsen, born in Canada, is a robotics aficionado, educator, author and mom with a passion for closing the diversity gap in technology.
In 2015, she 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, whose 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.
Albrechtsen was recently given AdWeek's Disruptor Award in Championing Gender Diversity in Advertising and Tech. She has also been named Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 by the Asian Chamber of Commerce as well as named a Morgan Stanley Multi-Cultural Innovation Lab fellow.