How do we inspire young children to explore, create and learn important life skills through the use of technology? The easy-to-operate robot, KIBO, may well hold the answer.
The KIBO robotic kit helps pre-school children learn sequencing, estimation, problem-solving and planning skills, while encouraging them to play with one another.
Five pre-school centres in Singapore are participating in a research project commissioned by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to evaluate the educational impact of KIBO. The research will study the impact of introducing developmentally appropriate robotics in early childhood in the local context. It will draw out pedagogical practices and benefits, as well as the support and structures needed to bring about the desired child development outcomes.
KIBO aims to develop young children's cognitive, social, emotional and motor skills by encouraging open-ended play, and combining technology with expressive arts. Specifically designed for young children aged 4-7 years old, the robotic kit appeals to kids who are technically-minded, are inclined towards arts and culture, and those who like physical activities. Young children learn to work together in teams to build customised robots. They program the robot to do what they want, using the wooden blocks with programming instructions. They further express their creativity by decorating it with art and craft materials. As such, it allows parents and teachers to encourage creativity, integrating arts and cultural learning with fundamental math, science, and literacy.
Chief Executive of the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), Mr Eugene Leong, visited the children at PCF Sparkletots @Boon Lay with his team on 30 March 2016 (Wednesday). During the visit, they watched a special KIBO dance performance "choreographed" by the children. The audience was thrilled as the robots twirled and whirled to the beat of the waltz, lion dance, and African dance music.
At the end of the showcase, the K2 children and their teachers were presented with a badge and certificate issued by IDA.
It is indeed encouraging to see how technology can facilitate learning through play, and in the process, develop creative confidence and social skills in young children.