IDA launches S$1.5m pilot to roll out tech toys for preschoolers

  • Pilot programme to kick off in January 2016 with 160 preschool centres
  • Toys to promote kinaesthetic and social interactions
IDA launches S$1.5m pilot to roll out tech toys for preschoolers

SINGAPORE’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) announced the launch of its PlayMaker Programme on Sept 23 to introduce a suite of technology-enabled toys to preschool centres.
In a statement, the country’s telecommunications and information technology (IT) regulator said the pilot is aimed at enriching the learning experience for the children to foster creativity, problem solving and confident learning.
It will be investing $1.5m for an initial 160 pilot preschool centres to be equipped with the tech toys, on-going technical support, as well as educator workshops to help them integrate the toys into the existing curriculum.
The regulator is aware of the growing concern from educators and parents about excessive screen time and the lack of kinaesthetic and social interactions, as young children become more exposed to various technology devices.
However, it also believed that there is a need to harness these information-rich tools to provide more positive learning experiences. 
As such, the PlayMaker Programme will offer child-friendly, technology-enabled toys that promote tactile and more kinaesthetic experiences.  These toys “help children to explore and find creative solutions”, the press release noted. 
Some examples include peel-and-stick electronics for crafting circuits using LED stickers (pic above), and KIBO, a robot kit which allows children to create a sequence of instructions using wooden blocks (pic below).

IDA launches S$1.5m pilot to roll out tech toys for preschoolers

Children will be guided by adults to acquire abilities like logical thinking, reasoning, sequencing, estimation and inventive thinking through the use of the toys.
They will also encourage children to work in small groups, in a hope that through collaboration, they develop social and communication skills.
“As Singapore becomes a Smart Nation, our children will need to be comfortable creating with technology. We are very excited that our Playmaker programme gives children the tools not only to have fun, but also to experiment and problem solve together, building up their confidence and creativity,” said Mr Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA.
IDA said the programme is in line with the Infocomm Media 2025 recommendations, where industry recommended more efforts to explore how to introduce younger children to tech, with the goal of developing a can-do spirit needed in innovation.
It had  previously conducted a three-month Proof-of-Concept for the IDA PlayMaker Programme with Preschool Learning Academy@Temasek Polytechnic (PLAY@TP) in January 2015, and those learning experiences will be shared with the pilot preschool centres.
One of the first of the 160 preschool centres to introduce the PlayMaker scheme is the YuHua PAP Community Foundation (PCF) center, located within the Jurong Lake District Smart Nation test bed.
Victor Bay, chief executive of PCF said, “Children are natural explorers with a high level of curiosity. These technology-enabled toys further cultivate their curiosity and provide the children with numerous opportunities to see their ideas and imagination come to fruition,.”
The pilot programmes will kick off in January 2016 and a review of the pilot will then be conducted with an aim to offer PlayMaker to all preschool centres in Singapore.
For those who wish to find out more about the PlayMaker programme, IDA will be exhibiting and showcasing it at the Early Childhood Conference and Carnival 2015 on 25-26 Sept at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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