Educators from the Jewish Educational Center’s Yeshiva of Elizabeth were introduced to the Kibo robot during a training session with its developer, Dr. Marina Bers of KinderLab Robotics and Tufts University.
Kibo offers an interactive way for students to develop their computational thinking skills and learn about the engineering design process. The elementary division educators were part of a group meeting Jan. 12 at Yavneh Academy in Paramus. The school has begun to introduce the Kibo curriculum in its early childhood and lower grades.
Bers, who launched Kinderlab Robotics with technology industry veteran Mitch Rosenberg for the purpose of developing the robotics kit, likened technology to a playground, where learning comes alive in many essential ways. She described the Kibo robot as a “developmentally appropriate” — and screen-free — way of allowing even the youngest students to discover key technology principles.
“From a developmental perspective, it’s important that children learn the basics behind programming and logic at an early age while engaging in open-ended play that encourages problem solving and experimentation,” said Bers. “When you’re a five-year-old, there’s not much you can build and control in your world, but with Kibo — ‘hope’ in Japanese — you can make a robot that looks and moves exactly the way you want it to.”
During the training, JEC educators had the opportunity to build and program Kibos, experimenting with different possibilities for curricular integration. Students can learn to build robots using modular components supplied in the kit, personalize them with art designs, and then program them to perform a variety of activities without the use of traditional computers, tablets, or smartphones.
“It’s important that children grow up with the understanding that technology isn’t magic, but is something that they can learn to master,” said Rosenberg.
“We are incredibly excited about our Kibo initiative,” said assistant principal Dr. Goldie Grossman.