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Where awe and wonder meets technology:
We are delighted and excited to introduce you to our unique, engaging, and versatile Glow and Go Bot.
Glow and Go Bot has been developed with educationalists and experts from around the world. We have utilised technology to help support and enrich the learning, but that is just one element of it.
How does it help with child development?
As with all our projects we started with the child. What do they need? What is aligned to their skills, developmental stages, and interests? What is going to help them to secure a firm foundation of early skills? How can we do that in a format that is pedagogically sound as well as being engaging? We wanted to devise something that created an air of eager anticipation, where children were excited to play with it. We also wanted to merge technology with awe and wonder.
Our research took on a global perspective, but we were also drawn to the fundamental principles of the Characteristics of Effective Learning from the Early Years Foundation Stage. This is applicable to all children and a wonderful place to start. It made us reflect how children access learning and how they learn.
We wanted to create an imaginative resource which enabled children to experiment, explore and to make discoveries. We wanted them to be autonomous, active participants who were challenged to think critically and to problem solve. Children need rich opportunities to ponder, to make connections, to predict, adapt and to make their own choices.
Having a sense of curiosity and being able to pursue this was key. The resource needed to be visually appealing and enticing so that they are drawn towards it. We also wanted to cultivate a sense of tenacity, encouraging them to pursue a task and negotiate how to complete it. This playful approach would hopefully help the children to make sense of things and deepen their understanding.
We know that a resource that is open-ended and reusable has much more appeal. We therefore ensured that the robot provided opportunities to develop and enrich language skills, physical skills, creative, mathematical, and social skills. It was designed to meet the needs of a very young child, but it also could go on to be utilised by older children in new and exciting ways.
We worked closely with Carol Allen, a specialist consultant in technology and inclusion, to ensure that the bot was inclusive. We examined the light element, sounds, how to change the modes, and the tactile surfaces. The fact that robot can be beautifully illuminated added another element. It became more magical, adding a sense of awe and wonder to the activities.
The TTS Bee-Bot is a familiar and firm favourite around the world, and the Glow and Go Bot is a stage prior to this. The arrow buttons are pressed, and it moves in a very literal way, regardless of which way the head is facing. We recognised that cognitively the younger children could relate better to this format, rather than thinking about different directions and turns. If you press left, it simply goes left, if you press forwards, that’s exactly what it does.
The toddlers loved pressing the buttons and seeing them light up. They liked the immediate feedback and the sounds it made. They quickly came to associate things together and to make connections. They were learning about cause and effect, stimulus response. As an observer, it was clear to see that even the younger children were really deliberating and contemplating, fully absorbed in their play. It was also apparent from the smiles and laughter they were having great fun.
The children enjoyed discovering how to make the robot move in certain directions, or to a specific place. Their tenacity was rewarded. They quickly started to relate that the number of presses could correspond to specific directions and movements. Its adaptability meant that it could be used in different modes, even allowing the sounds to be silenced and to go into a more static format. They were particularly delighted as the Bot moved across the floor. They were also eager to move around with the Bot, especially when the dance mode was actioned.
How can I use the Go and Glow bot?
The robot works well in a STEAM based learning context, the children can design and build it a home! What size will it be? How will it get inside? What will it be made of? Will there be a challenge encountered to get the Glow and Go Bot to go on a mission, avoiding the swamp and the volcanoes as it moves? Perhaps it will be just to get to a specific place or person.
The children may build small world locations around the Bot. By covering the floor with paper, the children can draw out their mini worlds and create amazing adventures and narratives. It may be a village location, under the sea or perhaps an imaginary planet.
Access to loose parts and construction materials may enable the children to really be creative and to be the architects of their little robot’s worlds.
Simple cardboard boxes offer so many possibilities. We saw how they could be transformed into a long tunnel. It was a simple construction, but it encouraged wonderful problem solving and mathematical skills. Prepositional language and language of more, less, enough, etc. was uttered as the children determined how many presses were needed to get it through to the other side. When it stopped midway there was a problem to be solved. As it eventually emerged there was an apparent sense of delight and accomplishment.
The robot was also trialled in sensory rooms and darkened environments. When used with the TTS Early Years Projector, the colourful shadows cast on the floors and walls were quite magical. We added Glow Bricks and Cylinders and the area was transformed into an illuminated, sparkly pathway.
Initially the resource was to help foster the early key skills through exploring and experimenting, but it quickly became apparent that Glow and Go Bot offered so much more! It is highly interactive and incredibly versatile.
Let the imaginative adventures begin and the sounds of laughter continue.
Thank you to TTS Early Years NPD Director and in house educationalist, Catherine L Clark, for the content in this blog.