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JEC’s Yeshiva of Elizabeth Educators Train with KIBO Robots

Elizabeth, NJ—On January 12th, educators from the Jewish Educational Center’s Yeshiva of Elizabeth elementary division were introduced to the KIBO robot, which offers an interactive, hands-on opportunity to help students hone their computational thinking and learn about the engineering design process. The educators were part of a cohort meeting at Yavneh Academy in Paramus designed to learn about KIBO from its developer, Dr. Marina Bers of KinderLab Robotics and Tufts University.

Dr. Bers, who launched Kinderlab Robotics with tech industry veteran Mitch Rosenberg for the purpose of developing the robot 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.

KIBO means “hope” in Japanese, and “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,” explained Dr. Bers. “When you’re a 5 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.”

The Kibo robot kit is designed not only for children who are interested in technology and gadgetry, but also taps into creative types and those who enjoy making things using their hands. Students are empowered to build robots using modular components that are supplied in the kit, personalize them with assorted 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,” shared Rosenberg.

During the teacher training, JEC educators had an opportunity to build and program KIBOs, experimenting with different possibilities for curricular integration. “We are incredibly excited about our KIBO initiative,” said Dr. Goldie Grossman, Assistant Principal, “and look forward to sharing the children’s learning with all of our parents!”

By Adina Abramov

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