Indeed going to school is a nightmare for the kids. It is a fact that kids are hoping for a holiday everyday. It is daily challenge for the parents to make their kids go to school. This is specially true for the kids showing syndromes of Autism as it makes their interaction with teachers difficult. But now, may be this will change as use of robot teachers will make the learning a fun for such kids. Topcliffe primary school is pioneer in using humanoid robots to teach the kids with autism. These robots can play games with kids, dance, talk and finally can teach them like a real teacher. Though, these robots still lack human like emotions and expressions.
These robot teachers are named by the students as Ben and Max. According to head teacher, it becomes easier for autistic pupils to learn and relate with the robots. Head teacher, Ian Lowe, describes that it is much more easier to for Autistic children to engage with robot teachers which they consider as less threatening and less scary. In the beginning, the students who came to school and were even unable to make eye contacts with the teachers, can now easily communicate with these cute robots which start capturing the attention of these kids.
The school is aimed at providing educational facilities to autistic students. These robots will not only help kids in understanding but also can get them enough confidence to be integrated with normal students. Of course it is fun to see your teacher performing Tai Chi skills and students will love it. Few students have already been integrated with other normal children. Special thanks to University of university of Birmingham and Aldebaran who donated these two robots to school.
The robot is not only a source of learning educational tasks but also has helped in improving the social skills of the children. Libi Copper is a student of 5 years before she made friends with robots Ben and Max, she could hardly focus on anything for more than 5 minutes, let alone attend a lesson. Now, thanks to this interaction she can even concentrate for more than 20 minutes and soon she will able to take regular classes with normal students. Her social skills have also been developed, for example, she can copy the robot dancing.
This wonderful project was the result of mutual cooperation between the school, University of Birmingham and University of Aldebaran. New features are also being added into the robot by the universitie. Parents and teacher can now track the progress of their children by analyzing the games the children play with robot. Multiple new games are being developed including animal recognition in which students are supposed to identify the animal. For instance, robot can ask the students to identify the cat, the students will look into a pack of cards and finally give the cat out.