Watching, creating and achieving: Creative technologies as a conduit for learning in the early years
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This paper describes the use of robotics in an Early Years classroom as a tool to aid the development of technological skills in a creative environment rich with literacy and numeracy opportunities. The pilot project illustrates how a three-phase process can result in the development of: (1) emergent literacy and numeracy, (2) digital access for disadvantaged Early Years learners and (3) basic engineering concepts. The pilot study was conducted with a class of 16 students aged between 5 years and 6 months to 7 years, over a 6-week period. During this period, the students were introduced to and engaged in the creation of robots and simple machines via the use of a commercial robotics package. The pilot was designed around three distinct phases: modelling, exploring and evaluating. These phases provided scaffolding for the students to engage with the technology and for the class teacher to develop her own skills. The use of this particular robotics package is unique to Australia, unique to Early Years, and links hands-on, fine-motor development with 21st century learning. The researchers and authors of this paper are currently based at the Australian Catholic University and are involved with projects involving creative, digital technologies, children in the early years of formal schooling, emerging literacy and numeracy for diverse Early Years learners and the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
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