Simple Robotics with Dr Kate Highfield

Robotics in Early Childhood Education

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Video Transcript - robotics professional development for teachers

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Well, good evening everybody. My name is Michael Hilkemeijer and tonight I have Doctor Kate Highfield.


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She formerly worked with early childhood Australia and now works with the Australian Catholic University and tonight.

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She's going to be presenting to you on simple robotic toys tools to facilitate play, and letting in stem.

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Doctor Kate Highfield it is absolutely my pleasure to have you.

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I'm so excited to hear what you have to present tonight, it's all yours.

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Oh, thank you so much. I'm just going to pause this share for two seconds.

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So that we can let that recording it come through.

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Through for some very odd reason, zoom is not playing nicely tonight. Now friends, I'm not sure where you are.

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Joining us from.

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Where you have a hailing?

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But I am in Canberra and I am joining you from none of war lands, so I'd like to.

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Hey, Miss Ross Pects to the traditional owners of the land.

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Michael, you're into Toowoomba, so I'm not quite sure the lands up there, but I hail from Gadigal territory and today on Nana will land in Canada.

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All righty, and let's get that share happening. So friends robotics early childhood. Do they fit together? How do simple robotics work in early childhood?

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My guess is that about half of your people have seen one of these. I do laugh when I see them in nurseries.

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Have been used as plastic chew toys because.

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This of course is a robotic.

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Toy and I'll talk more about.

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That a little bit later.

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As Michael mentioned, I'm an academic at Australian Catholic University.


I also

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Have the honour of being course coordinator for the masters of early childhood and primary teaching.

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So if you're thinking about going through into that space, I would love to.

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Chat with you especially.

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If you've got a degree in then.

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In alternate area because that Masters programme is is humming. So friends often when we think about our our work with young children we think that this play focus we think about an approach where where we're really focusing in on play however.

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Well, there are lots.

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Of new technologies that really can take play and learning and integrate. Integrate them in STEM and a little over 10 years ago I actually completed my PhD on exactly this topic on simple robotics. And what does that mean? The robotics have changed since then, but children have not changed.

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And the learning.

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That's are available to us in this space is really quite remarkable.

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So friends, when we think about Australian perspectives around children use of technology, we seem to have this this continuum.

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Where we're seeing a lot of.

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Parents concerned about children.

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Consuming our technology and particularly consuming media, I certainly recognise that I've you get so good.

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Workout in our house. I have a four year old and wild meals are being prepared or you know in that quite calm down after a beautiful day in our early education context, a little bit of screen time.

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Happens and for Jemima it's predominantly consuming premade technology, premade content.

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We then have over this far extreme. My ideal use of technology, which is where children are creating where children are using the tools to create digital books to create artworks to create interactive objects, etc.

00:03:56 Kate Highfield

But you see when?

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We think about Australian perspectives on on technology we.

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Almost always go.

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To screen time, and that's because these devices, mobile phones and iPads are really very commonly seen in Australia and we are commonly focusing on screens and part of that concern around screen time.

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Was what led me to my PhD in the Tange.

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People in looking at what does the tangible do to enable children thinking? It's still a technology, but it's a technology without the screen.

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Now friends, if you'd like to read more about our Australian perspectives on technology, please go and read Early Childhood Australia position statement on young children in digital technology.

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It has four.

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Really simple pieces of advice for areas for us to focus on and I would love for you to have a look at that.

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I was part of the group that wrote that worked on on that and and of course it was written by the Amazing Leonce tracker and Susie Edwards and it does position healthy media use and screen time in there but.

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I digress, let's get onto robotics, so I have a background in STEM and a real passion to see children being able to.

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Access powerful ideas.

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We have decades of research on that. We know that stem affords different types of thinking and that we have this incredible opportunity to.

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To bridge that.

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Gap between play and learning using STEM. We also know that technology can assist in in developing particular skills in content areas.

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Now robotics of course comes from the amazing work of Seymour, peppered and logo and logo, which was that computer turtle programme that you directed around the screen.

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And Michael, I'm guessing you and I did that in primary school. It came out of the Yeah, logo programming was the first accessible programming.

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For children, and it was designed by a gentleman named Seymour Papert who really did lead the way.

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What was exciting about that was that our programming gave children the opportunity to make their thinking visible to externalise their intuitive expectations.

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There were really brilliant benefits in mathematics for logo and some interesting potential to take it.

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Further, so when we look at.

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Projects we see that robotics are the the embodiment of logo. There a way of allowing children to engage in mathematical problem solving and reflective thinking and that we can do that in different modes. For me I'm most interested in play based modes and play based.

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Modes that lead to stem.

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So if you're thinking what on Earth is stem, I want to take a.

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Moment to share this with you.

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You of course STEM is. The is an acronym STEM, not stem for plants. Indeed. STEM for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And when we talk about technology.

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We talk about both.

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Digital technology and design technology now often these.

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Pieces of the puzzle are thought of as separate pieces of the puzzle, but when we talk about stem and thinking, stem learning, stem play, we integrate in some science and technology or some engineering and mathematics.

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And we allowed children this beautiful cyclic thinking where they can come back and revisit their ideas. They can take step forwards and steps back.

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They can iterate their thinking. Now what excites me about robotics is just by using a robotic device. You're integrating technology, both design.

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Technology in planning a path and digital technology because it's a digital tool, but you're also integrating in mathematics because of the the movement through space, the geometry and of course, the measure.

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Then now you could also be doing scientific thinking, reasoning, investigating in problem solving, and most children engage in engineering where you make something and make something better.

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As you look at robotics.

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So when we talk.

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About using robotic toys, we're really.

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Talking about stem learning and.

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I hesitate to say that because so often people.

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Freak out when we think about stem because they imagine pushing down a curriculum on young children, whereas in fact we're talking about a play based curriculum where children are enabled to do stem thinking.

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Now, simple robotics and programmable choice have a long history. It starts way back when with this massive turtle as big as my head.

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In fact, bigger are called aroma. Now the Roma turtle was so heavy and I I have one in the garage. I confess I was given one and.

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Gosh, what a great present.

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It's about 3 kilogrammes so really heavy you.

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Definitely didn't want to drop it on.

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Your to the Roma has since evolved and it's evolved into a Roma based plate, a primary Roma and infant Roman and early years Roma and I so hope that's still being sold because it really gave us a nice progression of programming.

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The Roma has had babies and I I I don't mean that literally because these are made by different companies.

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But of course the B bot was one of the most accessible toys, and these were often given out by organisations.

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When you did a large order, so we know that lots of services have be bots. These bright yellow things.

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In their in their stories. But maybe you don't know how to use them and we'll touch on them today.

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We also saw the.

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Probat he's been discontinued, so we'll leave.

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Him to the side.

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And of course, the Lego product.

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So Lego RCX, Lego, NXT and then needs humanoid robots, which cost often are upwards of $1000. Lots of toys are about in the robotic space.

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Whether they're robopets and there's lots of days, or the mykanos, or indeed things like Lego, we do little bits which does an interesting stem toy because it doesn't necessarily move through space, but there are still movable parts that your component combining to create that programmable toy.

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And we could.

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Have a session on any one of these. Michael, there's so many.

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Things we could.

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Talk about at Dash and DOT or as they're now called Bo and Yana.

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Sorry, I think they started as banana or get confused. There were one or the other of course came about and then Kibo out of marine neighbours. Our research.

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And Kibo is lovely because you have to scan a barcode to programme key vote.

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More recently, about five years ago, we saw the premiere Cubetto and Cubetto is beautiful and slow moving and uses a puzzle interface as the programme and then even more recently, Lego Duplo brought out their very popular steam train that steam trains kind of fun. I have.

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To say you put.

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Coloured pieces on the track to programme the toy, although of course it. It really does reliant well. No, it doesn't rely on a track, but the programme relies on the.

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Recently a Fisher price jumped into this space with code a pillar and coda pillar. Are you plug in pieces of that tail to create your programme?

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But the two I want to really hone in on today are the ozobot and the ozobot is tiny. So look how small the ozobot is guys. A little bit of.

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That is very small.

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A choking hazard.

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A little bit of a choking hazard, something.

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To be aware of.

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But gosh, it's fun and the last one I want to hone in on today because it's so commonly used.

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Is this little fella, the bebop? The blue box? Sorry so the B button the blue bot are made by the same company, but the blue Bot uses something called a clear box technology and if I turn that on.

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And I will endeavour to turn it on without turning the sound.

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You can see literally inside the device. You can see it's our speaker, which is where the sound comes out.

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You can see the buttons. You can see the mechanics to make the wheels work, and of course you can see its microprocessor and its place.

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Now the Blue Bot is quite clever because at its most base level it is a simple programmable toy. I can use it exactly like this, but it also works by Bluetooth.

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So you can plug.

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It in and connect it with your iPad, so again, we've got that level of programming.

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Now, I think I've probably lost a few people. My uncle who are thinking Oh my goodness, I didn't come to talk about products, but we need to have these conversations so that we can get on to.

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What does this mean and what have I got in?

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My storeroom and.

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Is it appropriate so simple programmable toys?

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R this really lovely group?

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Of toys where there's a simple and direct programming interface where children very young children for about three years of age are can enter their programming without needing to understand numbers. Programming systems.

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And they just use things like arrows to move forward and backwards. What that means is that our youngest learners are able to engage in a playful way without the need of an.

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Adult to say do this.

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Do this, do this do this.

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It also means that you don't.

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Have to have that formal understanding of mathematics or.

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Stem to be able to have fun.

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So I mentioned all of these toys and we might just actually skip over those, because this is just a quick overview of those really simple toys. My favourite today is of course the blue box.

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Now stem we've touched on it slightly, but the best stem happens when children ask their own questions. When children engage in their own problem solving.

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So when children direct ask whether that task is to go forward, to move from me to you, to move from me to my letter on the board to make a House.

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Any of these could be tasks.

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Our goal they.

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Planet where they take Matt where they create a programme and a lot of very young children create that programme using embodied action where they act out the toy needs to go forward that far and.

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They act it out.

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Now, this particular one is really clever because it is its own unit of measure. If you want the bot.

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To go forward.

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At the blue got to go forward. He will go forward his own body length so he helps us with our planning and our programming.

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It also gives us that chance to see did it work or did it not you observe it. And then of course to evaluate it.

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Systems and of course there's that opportunity to represent.

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Now a lot of.

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People think, oh God, what does she mean?

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By semiotic systems.

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That's things like symbols so on.

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The Blue bot where it's got an arrow to go forward.

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It's a symbol now.

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This is where this piece of.

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Tech becomes so magic.

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You see, when children start school, we have this incredible expectation that there will no letters and sounds that they will understand that that crazy squiggle means us, or is because the nest could be.

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As far as.

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And they have to understand that this symbol means this. It's the same for numbers. If you draw the numeral one, it means one object, one thing, one item.

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So we're encouraging children to begin to understand symbol systems, and we're doing it.

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In a really playful

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Way without flash cards without pushing down.

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Killam, through our way where the children need to understand and we all know children like pushing buttons, both real buttons and rhetorical figurative.

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Friends as we move into the robotic space, that symbol system and I'm I am showing it to you on the B bot here.

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Not because I'm not necessarily saying it's the best one, but because one it's very familiar to many of you, and two, it's easier to photograph.

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So if we.

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Look at the symbols on the V, but.

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You can see that.

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There is a rotate button and that actually allows the bot to rotate 90 degrees or as one of my favourite 4 year old, said Kate.

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It's a book turn. It's the same as a book. Isn't that a nice idea? It's the same as a book, so it rotates left or right 92.

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Trees and it moves forward or back one step, which as I said was its body length.

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Over here we've got a clear button that clears out the programme because the toy can store up to 40 steps and a pause button that allows it to just pause in space.

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So you could go forward, forward, pause, which could symbolise the bebop visiting someone house, or perhaps dropping off.

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Something to grandma and I say that because.


One of the.

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Lovely ways that we see children using these is using them to act out stories.

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They can be. You can purchase these plastic hats that click on the back so instantly.

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Your feet what?

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Can become little Red Riding Hood.

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Or, as you'll see in a few photos.

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Later it can be decorated to be anything.

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So that last button in the.

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Middle is start or.

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Execute the programme and it's pretty simple go.

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Uh, my friend.

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In the 2010, the buttons altered slightly, but it's basically the same thing and you can see that the slight angle will change on that.

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Button, but I share that with you, so let's see one in action. Here's our little P bot and he's going to go forward.

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One step, one body length. You'll go forward again, and now let's see him do. A rotation rotates 90 degrees. To the right rotates 90 degrees to the left. So Michael yeah.

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How would you programme?

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This little babe ought to make a square.

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I'm not going to make you write it down, but I want you to think about it, could you?

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Make the bot maker square.

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Oh absolutely.

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Well, first you will press the forward button.

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And then you press the angle button to go to the right.

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And then four button again.

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And then you you would just sort of repeat that until you make the full square.

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Beautiful congratulations my friend. I confess I gave that to a math professor who couldn't work it out. It took him about 40 minutes.

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It took four different efforts to get it right. He was making it far more complicated. When you give this to a 3 year old, it's incredible what they can do.

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We'll call her Louise.

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Louise T didn't.

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Really engaged too much in the ten week programme, she sort of did a lot of observing.

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So four months later, when I went back to the service to pick up the collection of robotic toys, Louise found me, grabbed me by the hand and there was no way I was going anywhere.

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She took me over to the shelf. She took the be bought off the shelf and she said look what I can do.

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And she had caught her be bought to make to do the hokey pokey.

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So she sat with her be bought and she put her be bought in. She put her be bought out.

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She put her be bought in and she turned.

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It all about incredible.


Oh wow.



00:20:17 Speaker 2

So lovely and such a nice example of perseverance. We saw it with the professor we see.

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It with the three year old.

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Friends, I want to talk about two studies that were done a long time ago, but they were really interesting and have recently been replicated.


One is in.

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A prior to school context along daycare service where the toys were just given as an option and you can see here there was lots of different play happening, particularly with this group of children.

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Lots of Rd play.

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You can see some of the girls did dress up there be bots and of course they made lots of paths.

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And challenges and options.

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What excited me though, was that they were encouraged to draw what their robot did our throughout their ten week programme, 10 week engagement and what we see here is incredibly powerful because these children go from rarely making marks to making marks that are truly mathematical. Here's one example.

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To start with and then the same programme at the end. So the one on the left in the red bracket is that child drawing a picture of their.

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Robot making a square.

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The one on the right is the same child 10 weeks later and you can see this symbol system has evolved quite dramatically, so they've now got a symbol for forward, a symbol for return.

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ETC and you can see their understanding of geometric shape has also increased. This child wasn't almost four at the time.

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Now what I love about this is that if you ask the child what they've been doing, they've been playing.

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As adults, we impose this lens of their during mathematics. They're looking mathematically, but in fact, are they really looking mathematically? No, for children, they're just exploring their investigating.

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And another one, this is a child who's robot was moving forward in a path. In fact, it did make a square and then at the end the same child representation.

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So you can see that he uses a different symbol system, but you can see the emergence of a square and again it's accurate. I'm I love that little arrow which is a hook.

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Isn't that amazing? That's so noisy it is.

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And then an arrow.

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It's it's funny but.

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Well, what I just love about this is I we were asking the children well, what did the toy do and this is their response and these children didn't do any formal instruction.

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It was all play based tasks challenges where they really chose what they wanted to focus in on and that to me is.

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Where things get exciting.

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Another example, this is obviously the girl and the bot to start with, and then at the end and and I think I suspect I might be the girl in that picture because we were sitting together and then at the end are far more advanced.

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Our representation now guys, I don't think we want to hear about the school context, so I'm gonna very fast quick.

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Click through those.

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But again, you can see a very similar pattern with a lot more engagement in that space.

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So when we look at it, children moved beyond consuming and creating into really deep learning where they're focused in on academic skills. So the academic skills.

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And curriculum goals. The intellectual curriculum goals are to me very interesting. You see, often we think about academic skills and intellectual goals as different things. So academic skills are things like learning to count, understanding what a square.

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Looks like whereas intellectual goals are where we really want the learning to happen, where children are reasoning hypothesising, they're going through that quest for understanding and and I love Lillian cats as work in this space because.

00:24:07 Speaker 2

'cause we both achieved the academic and the intellectual all through a play based STEM programme. Now I thought Michael that you might want to have a little bit of a a play with.

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We will play.

00:24:21 Speaker 2

Now look well, a virtual play.

00:24:25 Speaker 2

Sorry about that.

00:24:27 Speaker 2

I didn't mean to raise your hope.

00:24:29 Speaker 2

But I thought we might like to have a bit of a play with what some of the newer robotics are doing.

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We've obviously looked at some older images and ideas from B box and provides, but I thought it would be fun to show you OZO bot and this new toy and this one. I obviously get good targeted.

00:24:49 Speaker 2

Advertising came to me through Instagram, someone on Instagram said Kate. Have you seen this? I love that my friends know me well enough and this one is a really cheap robotic toy.

00:25:01 Speaker 2

He's pulled.

00:25:03 Speaker 2

Up he's played some company called Happy Cow.

00:25:06 Speaker 1

Oh my gosh.


That's a very.

00:25:08 Speaker 2

Inductive robot, but interestingly it's got a series of sensors on the bottom, so if you don't mind Michael, I'd love to share some of these with you and I'm going to share this from my iPad, so fingers crossed we can get a decent share happening. All righty.


Not sure.

00:25:28 Speaker 2

Here we go.

00:25:31 Speaker 2

You don't need to see Jemima today, but of course she would love to jump in so really quickly, easily on easy on button you can see its wheels start spinning as soon as you.

00:25:42 Speaker 2

Turn it on.

00:25:42 Speaker 2

You pop it on a path. This is I started by pre drawing my path and then you can keep on drawing.

00:25:50 Speaker 2

So now we're tying in Mark making. Now I do want to just pause that there and point out this dodgy bit.

00:25:57 Speaker 2

He didn't like that turn, and so if we replay it, you'll see that that's where the toy fell off the turn and it does it again. Then it just couldn't quite cope with that thinner.

00:26:09 Speaker 2

Turn up, which is an interesting I guess challenge for us, as if we're thinking about this in terms of Mark making, we need to think about how accessible that is for all ages. I I love the concept and I'd love to see it in practise with services.

00:26:25 Speaker 2

I also want to show you this one and this is the ozobot in action.

00:26:29 Speaker 2

You see the ozobot.

00:26:32 Speaker 2

He's got just got a little cover on it. This is my yellow cover and the covers are brilliant because again, it's creating a bit of protection, but it means you can say I've got the blue or you've got the yellow.

00:26:43 Speaker 2

The overflow, but also draws a line, but it has its own code system and apologies for my dodgy colouring in here, but the coding system is where this gets quite interesting, so we'll have a look at the ozobot to turn him on. You have to squeeze him on the sides. This one is a rechargeable toy.

00:27:03 Speaker 2

As you position, you'll see it flash red because it's recognised the red in my drawn line. Similar to our uh.

00:27:15 Speaker 2

Inductive robot it needs quite a thick line, but.

00:27:19 Speaker 2

As you said, I'm.

00:27:20 Speaker 2

Sorry, what was that Michael?

00:27:22 Speaker 1

Oh weird, past the green and I was expecting to see the grain flush out but just read was it all?

00:27:29 Speaker 2

H No, it should have flashed up. I used the wrong colour green so there's a couple of finicky pieces in there.

00:27:35 Speaker 1

Ah, radio.

00:27:36 Speaker 2

Yeah, so you saw the green flash up then. It's sort of more of an olive green, it's.

00:27:39 Speaker 2

Reading, isn't it?

00:27:40 Speaker 2

These little buttons at the end are quite clever though, because that code means turn around and go back. So if it hits that red and blue it will turn around and go back on it live.

00:27:50 Speaker 1

That is very clever.

00:27:52 Speaker 2

And you can see.

00:27:53 Speaker 2

You know it's fun, isn't it?

00:27:54 Speaker 2

You could see some.

00:27:55 Speaker 2

Of those coats in action there.

00:27:57 Speaker 2

I'll pause that with the code strip up so you get an idea so you can make it go slow.

00:28:02 Speaker 2

Fast turbo Nitro boost. You've gotta lover Nitro boost. That was fun. Explaining that to four year olds are left turn right, turn straight and then all of the different colours.

00:28:13 Speaker 2

Michael, uh, what you can see with these two is this is cheap and cheerful, but a bit of fun.

00:28:20 Speaker 2

This one is.

00:28:21 Speaker 2

Far more expensive, but has a lot more affordances, and it's exactly what we see with the technology generally keeping.

00:28:29 Speaker 2

Cheerful increased affordances.

00:28:32 Speaker 2

And I think this is where us. As educators we need to be making these really sensible sustainable decisions. I love the boat.

00:28:43 Speaker 2

It's a brilliant.


00:28:44 Speaker 2

Thing, but unfortunately the bot uses our batteries, so you're going to have to either purchase rechargeable batteries.

00:28:51 Speaker 2

Or be thinking through the ecological footprint of replacing batteries. Blue Bot is rechargeable. The battery is in built and you can just plug.

00:29:01 Speaker 2

It in and recharge.

00:29:02 Speaker 2

Similarly with these two inductive users button batteries, it is screwed in so meets all the safety standards. But button batteries again, really significant environmental footprint, whereas ozobot more expensive is rechargeable. It's such an interesting place for us. You don't often think of stem.

00:29:22 Speaker 2

Robotics and ecology.


No, yeah.

00:29:24 Speaker 2

But more and more.

00:29:25 Speaker 2

I think we need to think about our footprints.

00:29:29 Speaker 2

Yeah questions, comments, thoughts from you or anyone else?

00:29:34 Speaker 1

Oh wow well.

00:29:37 Speaker 1

Doctor Kate, you mentioned that.

00:29:39 Speaker 1

That the blue bot is is your favourite.

00:29:45 Speaker 1

Would you mind sort of elaborating on that? Why? Why is it you know? What are the advantages of the blue bot to to oppose?

00:29:54 Speaker 1

No post.

00:29:56 Speaker 1

And with the with you people which I'm trying to say so.

00:30:01 Speaker 1

Uhm yeah. So one has a clear transparent shell and one dust or.

00:30:10 Speaker 2

Absolutely. So there's a number of different.

00:30:12 Speaker 2

Reasons for me, why does that?

00:30:14 Speaker 2

Sustainability piece rechargeable batteries.

00:30:17 Speaker 2

This one you put in your AAS.

00:30:19 Speaker 2

The other is that this.

00:30:21 Speaker 2

Once it goes, it can go forward backwards 90 degrees left, right.

00:30:26 Speaker 2

Ah, once it's done that there are some limitations to it. I have seen teachers do incredible things. You can hook Lego carts on the back and so you can do all sorts of art works with them. I've seen teachers are sticky tape pens on the back so that they become beautiful mark making exercises.

00:30:45 Speaker 2

I'm still dying to see someone doing painting with a baby, but but that probably won't happen because of the.

00:30:50 Speaker 2

Cost of them.

00:30:52 Speaker 2

But the B board itself does have some limitations. Now, in some educational context, they say that gives them. It gives educators confidence.

00:31:02 Speaker 2

To use it.

00:31:02 Speaker 2

Because they know that if it breaks, dies.

00:31:05 Speaker 2

All off the IT falls off the table that it's unlikely to be the end of the world, this being slightly more expensive does concern some some teachers. And before you ask how much they are, I have no idea.

00:31:17 Speaker 2

Because the fluctuating rate of the dollar, I really don't keep up with their costs and and so I do apologise for anyone who wanted that information.

00:31:26 Speaker 2

The other thing is that for me, the yellow colour inhibits a little bit of the creative opportunities. Yes, you can pop a hat on it and.

00:31:36 Speaker 2

Turn her into Red Riding Hood.

00:31:37 Speaker 2

Will Pop a green hat on and add.

00:31:40 Speaker 2

Frog bait, but you've still got.

00:31:42 Speaker 2

That really dominant yellow and some children are. I find that a little bit distracting to a more immersive scenario.

00:32:09 Speaker 2

There is another piece for me and at Michael as you know I do a lot of work on apps and screens and digital devices generally.

00:32:18 Speaker 2

But you can't see inside your phone. You can't see inside your computer or inside your iPad. I can't see how it works.



00:32:29 Speaker 2

I could do.

00:32:30 Speaker 2

Some tinkering and either very gorgeous honour is doing an amazing thesis on tinkering with technology. We could easily do some tinkering.

00:32:39 Speaker 2

But it's hard to get inside and most teachers don't want us to break their phone or their iPad just to look inside. Whereas what this does is allows us to wonder allows.

00:32:50 Speaker 2

Us to say.

00:32:51 Speaker 2

Wow, I wonder what that thing does, oh.

00:32:55 Speaker 2

Wow, that's the speaker, interesting.

00:32:56 Speaker 1

That's true, that was gonna be my next question actually. Yes yeah. How how? That sort of inspires the imagination and and also maybe the the capabilities of of young children as they they play with these robotics and think, well you know this is how.

00:33:16 Speaker 1

That moved in and get that cognitive sort of process happening.

00:33:22 Speaker 2

Absolutely, and for me it's that thing that's so often. Technology is black box, it's hidden. You can't see inside, whereas here we're starting to make a play thing clear.

00:33:33 Speaker 2

We're starting to make those Connexions and friends you.

00:33:36 Speaker 2

Haven't thought about it.

00:33:37 Speaker 2

But you were surrounded by robots.

00:33:39 Speaker 2

Have you pressed?

00:33:40 Speaker 2

The traffic light lately.

00:33:42 Speaker 2

Robot if I press that button it starts a programme. It's a timed programme where it turns those traffic lights those traffic lights and lets you walk across the road.

00:33:51 Speaker 2

Have you caught a lift lately? Press the button. The programme starts. You go up to level 2 and down.

00:33:58 Speaker 2

Etc. We are surrounded by programming and yet we don't see it and we don't understand it. So for me, opening up that box as much as we can, the digital box is such a powerful tool I'm I'm dying to have a clear computer when when Apple bringing out a clear computer I'll be the first ones on their doorstep or it's clear phone for that matter.

00:34:17 Speaker 1

Do they have a a a clear?

00:34:20 Speaker 1

One of the.

00:34:22 Speaker 1

First, Apple computer is that they brought out. It was all like half coloured car play.

00:34:26 Speaker 2

Jelly ones.

00:34:27 Speaker 1

A subtle thing way back Yonder.

00:34:31 Speaker 2

Yes, I am. I had a lot of fun as a PhD student doing a thing called step back in time where we stepped back through every different computer and those Apple computers. Oh, they were fun when they, those big jellybean.

00:34:47 Speaker 2

Yes, that's a conversation for another day. How?

00:34:50 Speaker 2

Much the cheque is made.

00:34:53 Speaker 2

Do you know the other piece for me? We're focused in tonight a little bit on STEM and.

00:34:58 Speaker 2

Got eggs? We're focusing a bit on that idea that children can play and learn all of these mathematical concepts.

00:35:04 Speaker 2

Whether it's counting unit iteration measurement, what we haven't touched on is the thinking that these things are forward because.

00:35:13 Speaker 2

The professor didn't make a square the first time round. He had to come and read.

00:35:16 Speaker 2

Is it?

00:35:17 Speaker 2

Uh, moving if I was moving from me to you, I guarantee I wouldn't estimate the right number of steps we'd have to have another go. We'd have to revise our thinking.

00:35:29 Speaker 2

That piece where failure is OK is where these things become so powerful in so many young children lives and I see it in my daughter as well as in children in early learning services and in schools in so many children.

00:35:44 Speaker 2

Labs, they're constantly rewarded, whether it's a reward for a touch on the screen or a reward reward for packing their bag or a reward for learning to tie their shoelaces. You know we have these.

00:35:56 Speaker 2

Externalised rewards we don't.

00:35:59 Speaker 2

Often allow productive failure and that.

00:36:03 Speaker 2

Productive failure piece.

00:36:04 Speaker 2

Where you can fall over and get back up again where you can make a mistake with your robotic and start again is a really interesting idea.

00:36:13 Speaker 2

Yeah, because this is a femoral it moves then it stops and you can start it again. It means that we have a way to really think about our thinking and gauging metacognition.

00:36:25 Speaker 2

Build our resilience, muscle and and really have that opportunity for productive failure. It didn't work, I revised it and it did.

00:36:34 Speaker 2

And the reward isn't in the teacher saying great job, well done Ding Ding Ding. The reward is in you achieving your goal. So that piece of iteration that piece of thinking is where this gets so exciting to me.

00:36:48 Speaker 1

Oh, that's that's so, you know.

00:36:51 Speaker 1

Yeah, thought provoking there. What you just.

00:36:54 Speaker 1

Said that, OK?

00:36:55 Speaker 2

Oh, how kind.

00:36:59 Speaker 1

You might have already mentioned you know and asked this question, but.

00:37:04 Speaker 1

Uh, in early childhood like a.

00:37:08 Speaker 1

Are there certain types of?

00:37:11 Speaker 1

Or levels of robotics. You know that that that might start off with and then progress as their capabilities go.

00:37:21 Speaker 2

Yeah, so we often thought of the B bot as a gateway, so the bebop was where you'd start. But now with these robots that link through to mark making, they possibly are a good starting point where you start with that one black texture and a big piece of paper and see what it can do. And then you can complicate it and I.


I love.

00:37:41 Speaker 2

That idea of educators.

00:37:44 Speaker 2

Are joining in and ask you question provoking problem solving. That idea where we can say.

00:37:50 Speaker 2

Oh, I wonder what a red Dexter or do?

00:37:53 Speaker 2

Let's have a try.

00:37:54 Speaker 2

And and by no means am I saying teach.

00:37:57 Speaker 2

Them the code.

00:37:58 Speaker 2

What I'm saying is, use that as a little stepping up. So I think now we're seeing increasingly toys.

00:38:05 Speaker 2

That have a baseline. Just draw with a black line a complicator, add some colour in then, and even more complicated, let's look at some of the codes. What happens with that red dot Anna blue dot in that or?

00:38:17 Speaker 2

Order and see what happens. Similarly, you could use the blue bot just as a simple toy inputting directly through the toy, or then you could move to connecting it with an iPad and using it as the Bluetooth device, because once you connect to an iPad, you open up additional terms. So instead of it just being.

00:38:37 Speaker 2

A 90 degree turn. You can have a 45 degree turn and so we can start doing a lot more geometry in there.

00:38:44 Speaker 2

So I think for me the blue bar.

00:38:47 Speaker 2

And that ability?

00:38:48 Speaker 2

To do all.

00:38:49 Speaker 2

Of those things in house still come back.

00:38:50 Speaker 1

It's safer.

00:38:53 Speaker 2

And I wish it wasn't so robotics makers. If you've got something else.

00:38:56 Speaker 2

For me, let.

00:38:57 Speaker 2

Me know, but I I see it as robust.

00:39:00 Speaker 2

Come my.

00:39:03 Speaker 2

Uh, be bought. Had its 10th birthday.

00:39:05 Speaker 2

The other day.

00:39:06 Speaker 2

It has been used by thousands of teachers. I've got a pack of them and being you know really and it's 10 years old and still growing strong.

00:39:15 Speaker 1

So going.

00:39:17 Speaker 2

I had one be bop die and that was because the teacher put it in.

00:39:20 Speaker 2

A in a.

00:39:20 Speaker 2

Dishwasher they thought that they needed to be sanitised so she put it in the dishwasher and the way we knew it died was that the batteries all corroded in in the background.

00:39:32 Speaker 2

Uhm, so if that out over over 10 years to only have one of them die I think is remarkable and I can't say that for all of them. My robotic kit, but.

00:39:42 Speaker 2

Certainly for that one.

00:39:44 Speaker 1

Uhm, also with robotics.

00:39:50 Speaker 1

Uhm, which ones do you would you recommend for for kids with disabilities?

00:40:01 Speaker 2

Oh, great question. So I think when we talk about children who are experiencing disabilities.

00:40:07 Speaker 2

We often because.

00:40:08 Speaker 2

We were so ableist, we think right, well, they can't do this, whereas in fact they can do so much of this and.

00:40:16 Speaker 2

Often it's just about finding the right toy that can manage their needs so.

00:40:23 Speaker 2

I have a very beautiful colleague who has a limb difference and so she doesn't have the dexterity to push buttons with her hand, but she's adapted and she can push buttons by putting a stylus in her mouth and so she pressed his buttons with her face, which to me is incredible that she is working in that way she has.

00:40:42 Speaker 2

Found that work around. We also see that some of the toys that have that Bluetooth connexion are really beneficial because there are other input ways.

00:40:53 Speaker 2

So a child who's limited by mobility might be able to engage through the screen rather than through the touch interface direct.

00:41:01 Speaker 2

Like I've also seen a lot of work with these devices with children who are who are experiencing autism spectrum disorder, particularly children, for whom the loud beeping.

00:41:14 Speaker 2

So it sounds are really quite distracting, and as you end the programme I'll just do a programme so you can see it.

00:41:25 Speaker 2

Listen to this lovely noise. Did you get the noise?

00:41:30 Speaker 2

Yeah, it's in a classroom where you have lots.

00:41:34 Speaker 2

Of children having that noise.

00:41:35 Speaker 2

Go beep beep beep.

00:41:37 Speaker 2

All the time it's quite grating, so I found a very successful piece is to simply turn off the sound so you can do this same programme.

00:41:49 Speaker 2

Yeah, the the motion noise, but you don't have the the auditory stimulus, so I think when you're looking at the toys you need to look at the needs of.

00:41:58 Speaker 2

The children in in your service or.

00:42:00 Speaker 2

In your classroom and make sure that.

00:42:02 Speaker 2

Your accounting for those needs.

00:42:05 Speaker 1


00:42:08 Speaker 1

Integrate well, not so much.

00:42:10 Speaker 1

Early childhood education is really.

00:42:16 Speaker 1

Laser Foundation too many.

00:42:18 Speaker 1

Yeah yeah, key loading areas which young children you know build upon throughout their schooling career.

00:42:28 Speaker 1

With some robotics.

00:42:32 Speaker 1

Uh, how do you see?

00:42:36 Speaker 1

Children you know using robotics more and more within the in the curriculum in the future.

00:42:46 Speaker 2

I I actually think that our the Australian curriculum particularly are really is enabling us lots of impressive ways forward. The Australian curriculum talks about both design technologies and digital tech now.

00:43:00 Speaker 2

Jeez, and that's what excites me because when we're looking at technology, we're not just talking about the digital, we're not just talking about the computer or the robotic, we're talking about the thinking process, that process of designing that process of iterating that process of developing a product and revising it. And I think if we look at Australians.

00:43:20 Speaker 2

As a creative country, you know.




00:43:22 Speaker 2

We we are the inventors of the hills.

00:43:24 Speaker 2

Hoist we are the inventors of Dyson and the hair dryer is much better than.

00:43:29 Speaker 2

The vacuum cleaner for me.

00:43:31 Speaker 2

I, I think when we look at ourselves as inventors and creators, that process of designing with technology is where this gets quite exciting and what I'm interested in is that concept that we are enabling very young children.

00:43:49 Speaker 2

To be designers and makers with the tech we're moving away from let's just consume media into. Let's create now you can absolutely do that with an iPad as well, but I'm I'm interested in what that means for us moving forward. If every preschool child had a chance to create.

00:44:09 Speaker 2

With technology, whether it's create with robotics or create with screens, I think we would be in a different place with our perspectives on how we use technology.

00:44:21 Speaker 2

You know, I I worry that many of our schools still focus on technologies where you are just going.

00:44:28 Speaker 2

Through a drill.

00:44:29 Speaker 2

And skilled practise of low level baseline skills.

00:44:34 Speaker 2

Now what's exciting about that is that you can cater for different needs and they can have responsive feedback, fantastic.

00:44:42 Speaker 2

I worry that that's the default that if we're using technology just for drill and practise type of software that we're actually missing the point.



00:44:51 Speaker 2

The point is allowing children to design their own digital destiny to be creators with media creators with programmes rather than just consumers.

00:45:05 Speaker 1

So the integration of of digital technology within early childhood education. It also is responsible for.

00:45:16 Speaker 1

Four lanes and foundations for the development of ICT capabilities.

00:45:23 Speaker 1

How do you see that evolving?

00:45:27 Speaker 1

You know, uh?

00:45:30 Speaker 1

In as well throughout.

00:45:33 Speaker 1

Primary curriculum and later into the secondary.

00:45:37 Speaker 2

And robotics is a classic example of that, in that it addresses many cross curriculum priorities and it gives you that chance to really take.

00:45:45 Speaker 2

It in different directions.

00:45:47 Speaker 2

You know whether you're using the bot to act out the narrative structure of a story or using it to look at geospatial locations on mapping and climate change.

00:45:57 Speaker 2

There are all sorts of.

00:45:58 Speaker 2

Different ways we can use the devices.

00:46:01 Speaker 2

Uhm, I think when we look at very young children, particularly children in early learning services, my starting point is on E safety. My starting point is allowing children to make conscious decisions and be really good digital citizens.

00:46:18 Speaker 2

The The amazing Susie Edwards says you can't be a good digital citizen unless you understand how it works, and that's where there's this interesting piece where we need to understand.

00:46:27 Speaker 2

Well, I communicate a message here and it ends up here. How did that work? Where did that connexion happen?

00:46:34 Speaker 2

Robotics isn't the solution for all of that, but it certainly helps us understand that if I press this button then this happens.

00:46:42 Speaker 2

If I send this message, it will arrive here and I think there's an interesting piece there for us, as in as we as teachers try to navigate this divide. Try to help.

00:46:55 Speaker 2

Connect these buttons around. Safety around being good citizens around.

00:47:00 Speaker 2

Uh, providing consent to share.

00:47:03 Speaker 2

Images you know. This is a really nice starting point. Without getting too hairy in that in that track, and I'm I'm happy to go down and talk further about that one, but I'm I'm conscious it's a slightly off topic for tonight.

00:47:16 Speaker 1

So, and it's a one final thing that you'd like to tell Alice is about. Like is this one. One key point that you would like them to remember or to maybe apply or or do? What would you like to tell them?

00:47:37 Speaker 2

I think often as teachers we do.

00:47:39 Speaker 2

The things that we know.

00:47:42 Speaker 2

We we want to feel confident in what we're doing, which means that we tend to revert to the topics, the areas, the.

00:47:52 Speaker 2

Inspirations in our teaching, regardless of what age group were working with where we feel confident.

00:47:58 Speaker 2

Robotics is one of those places you don't have to feel confident. You can just pop it out and say, hey guys, I do not know.

00:48:05 Speaker 2

Let's find out together. It takes a brave teacher to do that. Who says?

00:48:10 Speaker 2

I don't know.

00:48:11 Speaker 2

Let's Co investigate.

00:48:13 Speaker 2

Let's look it up. Let's see if.

00:48:15 Speaker 2

Our mums and dads know anything about.

00:48:16 Speaker 2

This hey maybe our Big Brothers or sisters.

00:48:18 Speaker 2

How about this? Who can we ask? Where can we find out? Turn this into a project where you're all inquiring together rather than a didactic teacher centred. Let's do this.

00:48:31 Speaker 2

I, I'm reminded in the work that we've done with.

00:48:34 Speaker 2

Early learning services in school.

00:48:36 Speaker 2

Rules are both here and internationally, that the best tasks are the ones where the teachers.

00:48:42 Speaker 2

Whoa, no idea. Let's try and solve it where their children really directed and created the problems. So my final tip is half ago be a Co investigator.

00:48:53 Speaker 2

You don't have to know how everything works because the children respect you for it and they also learn from how you respond to it.

00:49:02 Speaker 2

Uhm, I in my study I had a teacher say no, no this is still true. How do I have to go and read the instruction manual and put it away?

00:49:09 Speaker 2

She didn't get the devices out for another six weeks and I'm sure she only got them out 'cause she knew I was coming, whereas in fact she'd lost six weeks of the children just having ago, and I think that's my biggest lesson is, don't read the instruction manual. Be honestly ignorant and just.

00:49:27 Speaker 2

Have a go.

00:49:29 Speaker 1

That sounds pretty much like.

00:49:31 Speaker 1

Uhm, what the you know how young children learn in in early shoulder as well just through playing.

00:49:41 Speaker 1

And I think with features like they can do the same sort of thing. Just have a girl like you said and play around with it and learn through playing.

00:49:58 Speaker 1

This yeah.

00:50:00 Speaker 2

I think that's a great way to move ahead.

00:50:03 Speaker 1

Oh fantastic, well that was absolutely sensational and thank you so much. Doctor Kate Heartfield for that.

00:50:13 Speaker 1

For the wonderful presentation on simple robotics.

00:50:17 Speaker 2

It's fun to chat. Thanks Michael. Thanks for having me.



 Robotics professional development for teachers here.