Dancing robots: integrating art, music, and robotics in Singapore’s early childhood centers


In recent years, Singapore has increased its national emphasis on technology and engineering in early childhood education. Their newest initiative, the Playmaker Programme, has focused on teaching robotics and coding in preschool settings. Robotics offers a playful and collaborative way for children to engage with foundational technology and engineering concepts during their formative early childhood years. This study looks at a sample of preschool children (N = 98) from five early childhood centers in Singapore who completed a 7-week STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) KIBO robotics curriculum in their classrooms called, “Dances from Around the World.” KIBO is a newly developed robotics kit that teaches both engineering and programming. KIBO’s actions are programmed using tangible programming blocks—no screen-time required. Children’s knowledge of programming concepts were assessed upon completion of the curriculum using the Solve-Its assessment. Results indicate that children were highly successful at mastering foundational programming concepts. Additionally, teachers were successful at promoting a collaborative and creative environment, but less successful at finding ways to engage with the greater school community through robotics. This research study was part of a large country-wide initiative to increase the use of developmentally appropriate engineering tools in early childhood settings. Implications for the design of technology, curriculum, and other resources are addressed.

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This work was made possible by Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority and through the U.S. National Science Foundation Grant (DRL: 1118897). We would also like to acknowledge and thank the teachers and students from the participating schools in Singapore.

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Correspondence to Amanda Sullivan.

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Sullivan, A., Bers, M.U. Dancing robots: integrating art, music, and robotics in Singapore’s early childhood centers. Int J Technol Des Educ 28, 325–346 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-017-9397-0

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  • Robotics
  • Early childhood
  • Programming