Young Children are Learning to Code through Play

10/21/2016
PROFILES

Young children learn differently from older children. Their Early experiences like play have a deep impact on their development and create the foundation for a lifetime of learning. Children develop their problem solving skills as well as their collaborative working ability through these play experiences.

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Learning real-world concepts through play is one of the most effective ways children learn about the world.

Why Robotics for Young Children Today?

Robotics bring together the physical world and the computational world.

We are surrounded by technology -  smart phones, smart refrigerators, self-driving cars. But in the early years, children learn very little about how these things work. Research shows that young children can learn programming and engineering at a very early age. This is possible when children are given tools that are developmentally appropriate, that encourage open-ended play and that allow the integration of technical skills with expressive arts, math, literacy and cultural explorations.

Young kids learn by doing. They learn best by playing with physical objects, by making  and testing things. The information a child brings in through his senses creates the basis for expanding, forming and strengthening new connections in the brain. To learn programming and engineering, they need hand-help objects designed like traditional learning manipulatives. As they engage in playful learning, they can cultivate a curiosity for the technological world. They can explore problem solving and understand concepts such as sequencing, cause-and-effect and programming sensors and motors.

KinderLab Robotics emerged from more than a decade of research at Tufts University from Marina Umaschi Bers on new technologies for young children. Dr. Bers grew frustrated when presenting her work at conferences and being frequently asked “How can we teach concepts like programming and robotics to younger children?” Then, while walking in Walden Pond near Boston, her friend Mitch Rosenberg, a veteran executive at several robotics start-ups, decided to join forces with Dr. Bers, to fulfill an old-dream of his: improving STEM education. The result was KinderLab Robotics, a company dedicated to making over a decade of research available to every young child – and Kinderlab’s child-friendly robot KIBO.

Meet KIBO

KIBO is a robot kit specifically designed for young children aged four to seven years. It is different from any other kit currently in use because it appeals to both technically minded kids and those that connect more to arts and culture or physical activity. Young children learn by doing. Children can build their own robot with KIBO, program it to do what they want, and decorate it. KIBO gives children the chance to make their ideas physical and tangible—exactly what their young minds and bodies need. And KIBO does all this without requiring screen time from PCs, tablets or smartphones.

Designed for open-ended play, KIBO lets children make almost anything – a character from a story, a carousel, a helicopter – anything that they can think of. The child creates a sequence of instructions (a program) using the wooden KIBO blocks. They scan the blocks with the KIBO body to tell the robot what to do. When they press the button, the robot comes alive. With KIBO, young children can become programmers, engineers, designers and writers. And unlike other activity kits out there, KIBO is based on over 15 years of research in learning technologies and child development.

For information about KIBO for your district’s classrooms, email info@kinderlabrobotics.com or visit
www.kinderlabrobotics.com
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Issue 19.1 | Summer 2017

Southeast Education Network

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