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Tag Archives: Marina Umaschi Bers

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Blog poll: Educators – Do you feel coding concepts be introduced in early childhood?

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

View from the classroom: Riverside Presbyterian Day School

Debbie Rogers is the Director of Instructional Digital Design at the Riverside Presbyterian Day School in Jacksonville, Florida. She kindly took the time to speak with us about her class and how her students are working with KIBO.

Debbie came across KinderLab Robotics and KIBO following the introduction of Scratch Jr. to her school. After meeting with our team, hearing about the research behind KIBO’s development and seeing KIBO in action, Debbie knew that KIBO would be a great fit.

“To me, what really makes it powerful is that it’s designed developmentally, not just to be a marketable product. The research and the physicality of the wooden blocks are comfortable to a traditional teacher,” said Debbie about her choice to invest in KIBO for her school.

Riverside Presbyterian Day School is dedicated to introducing coding to children. This year more children and teachers are spending time on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), and have access to a designated STEAM room at the school. Debbie, her team, and the teachers promote a broader design systems mindset amongst the students without a focus on specifics such as coding fundamentals. From these programs children learn creatively to understand sequences and to solve problems systematically. With KIBO the Riverside Presbyterian Day School cultivates curiosity for the technical world, teaches problem solving and helps students to learn hands-on concepts such as cause-and-effect, sequencing and loops.

Robotics and KIBO were introduced to students by taking students’ previous stories, which had been made using Scratch Jr., and then helping the students make stories and characters come to life in the physical world. Through this method, young students get to experience and compare computer-based memory to reading and scanning a new program.

Debbie and her team have used KIBO with preschoolers, kindergarteners, second and third graders. Debbie feels that this resonates with the developmentally-appropriate nature of KIBO, and proves the importance of open-ended play in early education. The younger children were able to build KIBO and start programming in minutes, while the older children—used to reading and following set instructions—took more time, asked more questions and engaged differently.

“KIBO is certainly very-well designed for the younger mind, the 4-7 year-old age group that the team at KinderLab Robotics wanted to create it for. KIBO allows inductive, constructive learning. I don’t need to give the students instructions first. Instead we’re deriving our own instructions and creating our own definitions. It’s exploratory and a very open way to teach and to bond with students.”

To learn more about incorporating KIBO into your classroom, please get in touch today.


Posted on Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Brown Bear, Brown Bear: What Can You Code?

It’s National Robotics Week and to get everybody in the spirit, we thought we’d share a fun video about how our own robot kit – KIBO – has been used in the Kennedy-Longfellow Elementary School in Cambridge MA.

Sue Cusack is an assistant professor at Lesley University and has been working with Cambridge-area schools to embed learning technologies to early education classrooms.

KIBO has been used in grades K-2 in a variety of different ways. What’s so beneficial about KIBO is that it is easily integrated into existing curricula – and Kennedy-Longfellow took full advantage.

Click play below to see how kindergarteners brought the famous book, ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’ to life; how first-graders recreated the lifecycles of frogs and butterflies; and how second graders learned about different ways worms move through various environments.

KIBO strengthened students’ knowledge of social studies, science and language arts – and gave new valuable technical skills while having fun and working with their classmates.

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Why should four year-olds learn to program?

Young programmerCoding is a new literacy. We teach children to read and write because it opens new doors for them, gives them new ways to think about the world and offers new ways to express themselves. The same is true for coding.

When we learn to code, we learn to think sequentially, to think logically, to solve problems. And most importantly, we gain the ability to create anything we can dream of.

While it would be wonderful if more children grew up to fill the void of scientists and engineers, that’s not the only reason STEM literacy is vital. We don’t teach young children to write so that they will all become professional journalists and novelists. We teach them to write so they can create a shopping list, draft a business plan, share a love note.

And research shows that if we don’t start encouraging coding when children are young, we’re missing an opportunity. By fourth grade, stereotypes surrounding those who aren’t good at math, science, technology and engineering (STEM) are already formed. So why do most of our STEM and robotics programs begin in middle and high school? Why aren’t we starting early, when children are curious about the world and open to learning new things?

Of course, it is easier said than done. We need technologies that are developmentally-appropriate. Technologies that allow children to learn through creativity and open-ended play.

This is why I am part of the team that developed KIBO, a robot kit designed for four to seven year-olds. KIBO is screen-free and uses familiar wooden blocks to build a sequence, with a customizable art platform to teach children, teachers and parents the fundamentals of programming in a fun and engaging way. You can read more about KIBO and our mission to introduce coding to children by watching this short video.

Posted on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

KIBO: Good old-fashioned play meets cute robot

I don’t just have a personal fascination with robots, I’ve made a career of them. My technical career started at Honeywell Systems working on night vision applications in the late 1970s and eventually I found myself amongst robots with roles at Rethink Robotics and Kiva Systems.

KIBOToday, I spend my days with a bug-eyed, two-wheeled, unusual-looking yet cute robot called KIBO.

We say that KIBO teaches children aged four to seven years how to program, but really – it’s much more than that.

First, we have to consider the importance of science, technology, engineering and math. These are core subjects for education, but it’s vital that children learn about this by doing, being active and having fun. It’s also important that children have positive and rich experiences creating and building things at an early age. There’s not much you can control in your life at five years old – we’ve seen hundreds of children gleeful at being able to build and control KIBO.

It’s well understood by researchers, such as my co-founder Marina, that at four to seven years children’s self-images and self-identities begin to take shape. Giving them the means to build, fix and problem solve, and the confidence to do so, gives a life skill. It doesn’t mean that every child who has a KIBO will grow up to become a programmer, it’s about applying a learning approach to technology and logical thinking.

KIBO engages children with familiar wooden blocks and an approachable robot that the children can dress up, decorate and control. It’s all about open-ended play, where children’s creativity can go wherever they want. KIBO reaches kids where they are – no screens, no rules, just good old-fashioned-play meets cute robot.