In this article, Carmelo Piazza from the Brooklyn Preschool of Science, has been using robots to make computational learning fun for his young students. Carmelo describes how he uses robots and other kid-friendly technology as an outlet for free exploration for his students.
The article reads in part:
“Our 4-year-olds use the KIBO Robot Kit to connect with our thematic units of study. For example, when they were studying bird migration, the kids programmed the robots to create a V formation and “fly” across the classroom.
Our students love to do shows for their parents to illustrate what they’ve learned about a theme, and robots make that learning visible. For example, when we were doing a unit about colors, the kids wanted to teach their parents about the colors of the rainbow. The children worked in collaborative groups of three or four. Each student chose a color of the spectrum (ROY G. BIV). After choosing their color, they engineered their KIBO in a way to have the robot’s arm hold a piece of paper in their chosen color. The groups then programmed their robots to move together so that all seven robots, showing all seven colors of the rainbow, put on a show for the families.
Some preschool teachers might be intimidated at the idea of doing robotics, but they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Robots like KIBO come with an in-depth curriculum focusing on the mechanism of coding that robot. Once they’ve figured that out, they get to do the fun part: connecting that robot to whatever subject they’re teaching,
It helps that kids naturally gravitate towards robots. They want to touch and hold them; they want to build sequences to see cause and effect. When parents see how excited their kids get, they often want to buy their own robot. I say, “You don’t need to. You can take this one home for the weekend.” Many of them end up buying one anyway, because parents can’t believe the excitement and the enjoyment that their children are having.
Students aren’t the only ones who love our technology. When I did my professional development on the 3D printers, my teachers played with them for hours. Honestly, I have never seen my teachers as motivated, and it’s amazing how creative they have been in finding holistic connections to their units of study.
One of my proudest moments was seeing my teachers, even the ones who have been teaching the same curriculum for a few years and might have been hesitant about adding to it, get so excited about using this new technology in their classrooms. When that happened, their energy became contagious, and the children they were teaching got just as excited. Everybody just wanted more.”
Read the full article.