NAO at Topcliffe

We, at Topcliffe Primary, have been fortunate to be working with the NAO Robots for over a year now. I can still remember the disbelief when first talking to my staff about the robots, especially to those who were going to work with them, and then when they actually came and we could experiment with them...complete amazement, with a touch of 'Can't wait to tell friends/colleagues about them!' Indeed, after the children saw them the school as a whole took on a new dimension.

After a considerable debate the children voted and named the Robots "Ben" and "Max". As far as they were (and still are) concerned they are members of the class who they interact with and respond to. They are members of our Topcliffe family!

The children in our Autism base are completely motivated by them. The different behaviors support children with little or no communication skills to learn and interact with the robot to enhance their own development. Indeed children who have struggled to make progress in a traditional classroom format are being motivated and encouraged by Ben and Max to communicate with the freedom that they would struggle to find with an adult. This being the case I have seen whole classes all looking at NAO, all sitting beautifully because he has told them and demonstrated it!!! Children have also had an opportunity to work and interact with NAO independently, playing games that inspire joint attention and independence. These games have supported our children with autism to make huge strides, both socially and academically. It is a real privilege to witness and be part off.

The robots have completely changed the opportunities available and dimension of the school. Topcliffe has been, for some considerable time now, forward thinking and constantly looking to improve and meet the needs of all the children. Having researchers visit the school and work with the children and staff has visibly improved self-esteem and worth of all those involved. It is fantastic to be part of the academic research world with cutting edge technology that has so much potential for good, that makes children (and adults) smile!

It is the joy that NAO provides that so enhances learning and motivation of the school. NAO has led school assemblies, danced and performed for visitors and parents alike. The school community as a consequence has been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for it's work with NAO via the Global TV audience with SKY and NBC, to name but two, who have taken an interest in the robots work with children. The school has even had visitors from Australia visit specifically to see NAO. One parent saw one of the reports and stated that she loved the school and wanted to know how much the fees were to enroll her child!!!

In summing up, the NAO robots have enabled children to benefit in education with their motivation and communication skills. NAO has had a tremendous impact on the whole school community who are proud to be not only helping pioneer research that benefits children children with special needs but also has the ability to make everyone SMILE!

Ian Lowe

HeadTeacher, Topcliffe School, Birmingham

Ian Lowe

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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