Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 12 April 2016


Learn how preschool kids reacted to a robot teaching assistant named Pepper.

Some 2,000 children from over 50 pre-schools who visited the "The Future of Us" Exhibition learnt much about the future of pre-school classrooms.

Which includes a dancing robot teacher known as Pepper. And kids seem to love it!

This Future vision was brought to life by the Learning Pod Showcase, developed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), in collaboration with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), KidsSTOP (Science Centre Singapore) and Playeum.

Pepper emcees

Pepper the teaching assistant robot performing on stage with cute emcees from MyFirstSkool.

The Exhibition’s Marketplace area, which operated as platform for government agencies to collaborate with public and private partners to explore ideas for the future of our nation, hosted the Showcase from 29 February to 2 March. 

The children enjoyed themselves at the Learning Pod, touted as a mobile and versatile space — essentially a safe, fun and enriching environment for learning. 

There were hands-on and creative activities, including an experimental bubble fun science activity by KidsStop, and a creative car-building activity using Lego components by Playeum.  

One highlight for the IDA team and the children: The visit by Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth as well as Finance, Ms Sim Ann, on 29 February.

Said Ms Foo Hui Hui, Assistant Director with IDA’s Education Sector team: “She toured the activities at the Learning Pod, watched the performance, interacted with the children and also coloured the robot wall mural together with the preschool children.”

The Showcase star was undoubtedly Pepper, owned by Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank. The song and dance was developed by a robot app company called, appropriately enough, Robot Galaxy Kids!

Pepper queue

There was quite a queue to shake hands with Pepper and to take selfies too.

The humanoid robot was designed to be a companion that can communicate in a natural and intuitive way through its body movements and voice. It can also perceive emotions.

In one activity, children from MyFirstSkool enjoyed being emcees who introduced Pepper to the crowd and conversed with the chatty robot. 

They even led the crowd to perform the Jungle Dance in sync with Pepper, who did not miss a single step!

What’s more, there was a queue for the Meet and Greet sessions where the children could touch and cuddle, and even take a selfie with the popular teaching assistant robot.

Ms Foo said: “This observation shows positive response of pre-schoolers interacting with a social robot, which could potentially pave the way for such a future scenario to be a reality in the early childhood education sector.” 

Pepper may even be a fashion icon.

The IDA team present were attired in Stark Trek Federation uniforms, in order ‘to blend in with the children and to look as futuristic as Pepper’.

Pepper team

The IDA Education sector team in their Star Trek uniforms with Pepper.

(Editor: It seems logical to conclude that some members of the team used Vulcan logic to indulge their Trekkie fandom.)

The team has been exploring the use of social robots in early education, as Advanced robotics for education has been cited in the Infocomm Media  2025 (ICM2025) plan.

Said Ms Foo: “We imagine a future not too far off, where interactive robots with the ability to perform multiple human tasks and provide visualisation of complex ideas can help children to learn and collaborate better.”

And that future is nearer than you think.

The Education sector team will work on a proof-of-concept project with two pre-schools to explore how a robot teacher can support teachers in the domain of story-telling and collaborative play in an actual classroom.

So don't be too surprised if you see teaching robots appearing in your neighbourhood one of these days!


Pepper currently welcomes, informs and amuses customers at 140 Softbank Mobile stores in Japan. 

It also moonlights as a station attendant to greet passengers at Tokyo Haneda Airport station, and SNCF stations in France


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