The Pittsburg company Pitsco is all about education. And it’s taking its knowledge in robotics to some of the youngest learners. They don’t call it a toy in education but they want students to play with it.
Any kindergarten teacher will tell you kids learn through play and creativity. That’s the key to a new product from Pitsco Education called KUBO.
Pitsco president Lisa Paterni explained the appeal, “Kids like puzzles. The TagTiles® are a puzzle and trying to figure out how to make my robot do a certain thing, I get to plot it out, see if my robot does what I think it should do. And I do think there’s an element of play in there.”
KUBO, the robot, rolls over the TagTiles, arrows forward or turning or stop and records the pattern of direction designed or coded by kids and can repeat it on the game mat or anywhere.
Pitsco executive vice president Stephan Turnipseed said, “It allows children at a kindergarten through the second-grade level to have a very high quality, experiential learning opportunity without having to have the necessity to read. So, for us, it just furthers our mission of hands education.”
It is screen-free. There are no computers or tablets required. Kubo was developed by a Denmark company partnering with Pitsco to create the educational curriculum.
Paterni said Pitsco and KUBO developers work together every week to create a curriculum of relevant activities in literacy math and science.
For years Pitsco has reached high school and middle school students with Tetrix robots but you can’t just dumb down the technology. Turnipseed explained, “Most coding solutions are adult designed then pushed down into elementary settings where teachers are really having to deal with adult designed products instead of kid designed up products.” And Paterni added, “In education, we tend to take solutions and try to push them down and make them relevant for kids. And this product was truly developed with the K-2 student in mind.”
Turnipseed said research shows by third-grade kids start making choices about their interest in STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. For Pitsco, the product helps complete its line of offerings across the spectrum of education and is a chance
to expose the youngest to opportunities that give them choices in technology because they truly understand how it works.
And reaching students is Pitsco’s goal. Paterni said, “We gauge our success here not on revenue dollars but on the number of students we serve annually. Anytime we bring the product in the classroom and help students achieve success, that means we feel like we’ve been successful.
Pitsco will have a pilot program to get teacher feedback through an advisory group to make sure it meets the needs of students.