A brand new set of engaging Robotic Cubelets encourage children to become better thinkers - with coding, planning, problem solving...and fun!
OUR TOP STORIES
NEWS FROM AROUND
Tamariki at Kidsfirst Avonhead are completely captivated by their new kindergarten set of engaging robotic ‘Cubelets.’
Cubelet robot blocks are magnetic, electronic building blocks, each with a mini computer at their core. Connected together to make a robot Cubelet’s perform many different creative tasks, for example move around a table, follow a hand signal, turn on a light or play sounds.
Kidsfirst Avonhead Teachers, Cathy Tunnicliffe and Shannon Churchill attended a professional development course at Mindlab last year - a specialist education lab dedicated to enhancing digital literacy capability, implementation and practice in the teaching profession.
“We learned about many new products that can be used in kindergarten to extend children and teachers thinking in the area of computer technology. Cubelets were the product we thought would be ideal to get for kindergarten,” says Cathy.
Kidsfirst Avonhead are the first early childhood setting in the South Island to purchase these brilliant little robotic resources. They don’t come cheap at $2500 a set, but were paid for by the kindergartens annual trike-a-thon fundraiser, combined with a Warehouse Northlands contribution of $1500.
“From the moment we introduced the Cubelets to the children, the results have been amazing!” says Cathy.
"Children are finding out they need three blocks that represent a different ability - think, see or do," explains Cathy. “Coloured 'think' cubes are like little brains to perform math and logic functions, black 'sense' cubes are receptive to light or touch. Clear 'act' cubes, do things responding to voice or body movement, while the dark blue cubes are battery packs, to drive the robot.”
Some Cubelets have sensors, some have spinners, some have wheels and there’s no wrong way to build them. Curiosity is sparked with each new connection transforming the magnetic interface of the blocks to perform different robotic behaviour - like run away or follow, turn or spin around.
“We take a group of five children at a time and show children first how to care for the new equipment,” says Cathy.
The teaching team have observed that children have a deep level of fascination with the Cubelets, often engaged in concentration for over an hour. They’ll work well both independently - self sufficiently working out what to do by themselves, and collaboratively - sharing their knowledge of a different cube with each other to achieve the desired result.
Cathy observes, “We have one boy who has a great mind for planning and coding and his eyes were popping out of his head with excitement over the Cubelets.”
“One little girl is very people orientated - we find she needs a group situation to work well - but with Cubelets she is happy to work completely independently.”
While one, usually more reserved, quiet boy couldn’t contain his excitement and piped up with a delighted - “I've got wheels!”
“These are so cool,” says another.
“It’s hands-on enquiry learning and just amazing to see the children not afraid of new technology. It’s wonderful to watch them know exactly what to do, they’re inquisitive, they’ll give it a go and see what happens. They can get their heads around it all so quickly - it’s great to see,” adds Cathy.
Curiosity has clearly been sparked at Kidsfirst Avonhead with their new set of Cubelets - robot blocks that make it easy and fast to engage children in learning by building robots.
“From the moment we introduced the Cubelets to the children, the results have been amazing...
...it’s hands-on enquiry learning and wonderful to see the children not afraid of new technology...they know exactly what to do, they’re inquisitive, they’ll give it a go and see what happens!" says Teacher, Cathy Tunnicliffe.
KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT ASSOCIATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED KINDERGARTENS IN CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY AND ON THE WEST COAST FOR OVER 100 YEARS - AS THE PLACE LOCAL KIDS COME TO LEARN, PLAY AND HAVE FUN.