ARLINGTON, MA –May 30, 2014 - KinderLab Robotics, a creator of toys and educational tools that teach young children to understand logic and to program, has launched a campaign on Kickstarter for KIBO — a robot kit that teaches youngsters fundamentals of programming through intuitive, age- and developmentally-appropriate technology. With a funding goal of $50,000 to manufacture the robotic kit and take it to market, pledges range from $5 to $3,000, with a commitment of $219 for a programmable robotic kit.
KIBO engages four- to seven-year-olds in building instruction sets that control the actions of robots by creating programs, or lines of code, through the use of familiar ‘manipulative’ wooden blocks. Each block represents an action for the robot. Children use the blocks to build a program that controls KIBO’s motion and sounds, and uses sensors. KIBO’s sensors work with the wooden programming blocks to detect sound, light and distance. After building the program, children scan the sequence of blocks with the robot body, then press a single button to start KIBO. Children can use KIBO’s art platforms to decorate and personalize the robot.KIBO develops young children’s cognitive, social, emotional and motor skills, encourages open-ended play and combines technology with expressive arts and is customizable. It allows parents and teachers to encourage creativity, integrating expressive arts and cultural learning with fundamental math, science, and literacy.
The robotic kit is based on 15 years of research in child learning with technology, and has been designed by professor Marina Umaschi Bers and her expert team at Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development. Umaschi Bers is the director of the DevTech research group at Tufts and the chief scientist at KinderLab Robotics. Umaschi Bers was inspired to create the robots because she did not want her three young children sitting in front of a screen, but she wanted them to learn programming and logic while having fun. KIBO’s prototype has been tested by 245 Pre-K to second grade students and 35 teachers. “It was our top priority to create a platform based on the way that children learn,” Umaschi Bers said. “While there are robot kits available, they are designed by engineers and are made for children aged eight and upwards.
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. When you’re a five year-old, there’s not much you can build and control in your world, but with KIBO you can make a robot that looks and moves exactly the way you want it to.” Mitch Rosenberg, CEO of KinderLab Robotics, added: “KIBO is developmentally appropriate and adds value to all areas of standard curriculum – not just STEM. It’s based on simple wooden blocks with no need for smartphones, iPads or computer screens. It’s important that children grow up with the understanding that technology isn’t magic, but is something that they can learn to master.”
Nancy Kincaid, early childhood teacher in Morgantown, West Virginia, said: “This can pervade every aspect of the curriculum, and it can hook kids that aren’t traditional learners. Maybe their intelligence lies in a different area than what we emphasize in the traditional schools. I think it will be very powerful to get those kids hooked and teach them with this.” Once funded, KIBO will be assembled in Arlington, Massachusetts. Parents and teachers will also have access to detailed and customizable support including online and hard copy curriculum materials, design journals, worksheets, workbooks, assessments, games and classroom ‘expert badges’.
To support KIBO and KinderLab Robotics on Kickstarter, please click here or tweet us at @KinderLabRobot.
About KinderLab Robotics Inc. KinderLab Robotics creates toys and educational tools that enable young children to learn critical technical, problem- solving, and cognitive skills in a developmentally appropriate and playful way. While STEM education products exist for middle- and high-school students, KinderLab uniquely fills a need for a critical population: children under the age of seven. KinderLab products are based on over 15 years of academic and field research into how young children learn foundational concepts in programming and engineering by integrating them into a multidisciplinary curriculum that includes literacy, the expressive arts and cultural studies. KinderLab Robotics is headquartered in Arlington, Massachusetts. It was founded by Marina Umaschi Bers and Mitch Rosenberg in May 2013. The first KIBO prototype, KIWI, was created in the DevTech labs of Tufts University in 2008.
For more information about KinderLab Robotics and its educational products, please visit www.kinderlabrobotics.com.Media contact:Hazel Buttersor Jackie FraserPrompt Boston on behalf of KinderLab Robotics Inc. Tel: 857 277 5140
Arlington, Mass. – January 12, 2014 – KinderLab Robotics, Inc. (www.kinderlabrobotics.com), a developer of educational toys for early childhood, has received a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The six month grant will fund product design, research into manufacturing options for large-scale distribution, and market testing of a unique robot kit. The educational toy promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills in a unique manner that integrates with literacy, arts, creative expression, and open-ended play for children between 4-7 years old.
KinderLab Robotics is based on over 12 years of research by teams led by Marina Umaschi Bers, professor at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development and adjunct professor in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University. Professor Bers’ research explores how to design innovative technologies and pedagogical approaches that are developmentally appropriate
for young children. This SBIR grant builds on previous NSF-funded work by Professor Bers. Her previous research explored an early prototype robot toy that can be controlled with a tangible programming language that is uniquely well-suited to the cognitive, social, emotional, and motor developmental needs of pre-kindergarten thru second-grade students.
“The twenty-first century has already shown us that facility with computational and engineering concepts will be essential to children learning to function in the economy, and even in the broader cultural environment,” said Marina Umaschi Bers, co-founder and chief
scientist at KinderLab Robotics. “Research has shown that with the right educational tools, even very young children can learn these foundational ways of thinking—and have fun doing it. This grant will help KinderLab make these critical educational tools broadly available.”
Children are encountering technology earlier in their lives and with increasing frequency, yet typical school curricula and developmental toys at home do not yet help them learn how technology actually works. Not only is it important for children to understand how cameras, cellphones, tablets, and computers can be used—it is also critical that they learn how to participate in the creation of such devices, and the invention of future machines.
“With so much riding on STEM education, we are very excited that the federal government is investing in innovative education approaches for young children,” said Mitch Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of KinderLab Robotics. “KinderLab looks forward to rolling out a product that not only teaches kids key elements of technical literacy, but integrates tightly with a multidisciplinary curriculum, including language, math and science, cultural studies, and artistic self-expression.”
About KinderLab Robotics
KinderLab Robotics creates toys and educational tools that enable young children to learn critical technical, problem solving, and
cognitive skills in a developmentally appropriate and playful way. While other STEM education products exist for middle and high school students, KinderLab uniquely fills a need for a critical population: children under the age of seven. KinderLab products are based on over a dozen years of academic and field research into how young children learn foundational concepts in programming and engineering by integrating them into a multidisciplinary curriculum that includes literacy, the expressive arts, and cultural studies. For more information about KinderLab Robotics and its educational products, please visit www.kinderlabrobotics.com.