With several objects about the size of tennis balls whizzing along the ground, Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library looked almost like a gymnasium.
A group of youngsters stood nearby, eagerly trying to move the balls by remote control. Sometimes, they crashed into walls. Sometimes, they changed colors.
What exactly was going on?
The balls were Sphero robots, which are now available to be checked out at each of the Virginia Beach’s public libraries. Users make the small robots move with the help of a tablet and a related app.
The library system has 20 robots, which people can reserve online then pick up at the library of their choice. They are geared toward children ages 8 and older.
On Aug. 17, more than a dozen members of the central library’s Teen Advisory Group tested out the robots. One was Naashra Aikens, who will soon enter seventh grade at Western Branch Middle School in Chesapeake.
Naashra had never played with a Sphero before, but quickly came to enjoy trying to make hers move. Users guide the robots through the tablets, which have a kind of joy stick on their screens that give direction. They can use their fingers to draw an image on the tablet – like a square, circle or house – and the rolling robot will outline the shape of the image on the floor.
“You can control it and make it yours,” Naashra said.