In late October, more than 100 preschoolers and kindergarteners came to Lazenby Hall to celebrate Children’s Week and play with robots and technologies.

Based on her research, Dr Jo Bird from the Early Childhood team in the School of Education organised the Digital Play Day so children aged 3 to 7 could come together and experience different robots and technologies that they might not have tried before. She invited colleagues from the School of Education, and teamed up with Discovery Voyager, to put on the day and be available to assist both children and teachers with the robots and technologies.

The robots included Beebots and BlueBots, Cubetto, mTiny and Sphero Indi. Osmo attached to an iPad allowed children to code, draw pictures for stories and play Tangrams. The most popular attraction was the imaginative table, where old laptops, computer equipment, telephones, mobiles and digital cameras that no longer worked were used by the children in creative scenarios.

The inaugural Digital Play Day was a huge success and Dr Bird is already planning a bigger event next year.

“I’m reading the feedback and considering what else we can do,” she says. “It was inspiring to watch the children master a robot or code it to do what they wanted. So, how can we extend on that? Any ideas are certainly welcome.”

Image: Dr Jo Bird (wearing her robot earrings) with Digital Play Day helpers, from left, Sally Thorsteinsson, Dr Kishore Monger, Dr Stoo Sepp, and Associate Professor Jill Fielding. Dr Fran Quinn, Martin Levins and Associate Professor Brendan Jacobs from the School of Education, and Claire Chepel from UNE Discovery also contributed to the success of the day.