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Dan Riles Named “Teaching Trailblazer” by a Tufts University Research Group

Dan Riles, Technology Integration and Computer Support Specialist at Brookwood, has been recognized by the Early Childhood Robotics Network at Tufts University as a “Teaching Trailblazer.”  Trailblazers, “are innovative early childhood educators who are using robotics in interesting ways with young children,” and Dan’s work with Grades PreK through 5 at our school certainly fits the description.

“I work with teachers to help plan how technology can be integrated into their curriculum, I teach students directly, and I help troubleshoot and solve technology issues when they arise,” Dan says.

The university’s DevTech Research Group, which runs the Early Childhood Robotics Network, highlighted Dan’s use of KIBO as an introduction to robotics and programming for his youngest students. KIBO is a “robot kit specifically designed for young children ages four to seven years old that appeals to both technically minded kids and those that connect more to arts and culture or physical activity. Children build their own robot with KIBO, program it to do what they want, and decorate it. KIBO gives children the chance to make their ideas physical and tangible without requiring screen time from PCs, tablets or smartphones,” according to the product's website.

Dan expresses that he loves starting students’ robotics experience with KIBO for many reasons: “the use of symbols allows pre-literate children to access the code, the integrated bar-code scanner avoids the need for additional screen time, and young children who lack fine motor control can assemble the robot and blocks without any additional assistance,” he says

Going forward Dan plans to build on the work that he has done this year by working to incorporate robotics into all of the Pre-K through Grade 5 classrooms. Thus far, “Dan has been using KIBO as a separate robotics experience, but looks forward to starting to integrate the now more familiar materials into regular classroom activities, projects, and lessons.”

Read a profile of Dan: Brookwood BANNER, December 2015