An amazing morning at The Little Explorers Activity Club. The theme was Robots and they had a very special visitor - NAO from the Dream Project. DREAM is a project funded by the European Commission and developed by seven different partners:

University of Skövde, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Universitatea Babeş-Bolyai, Plymouth University, University of Portsmouth, De Montfort University, Aldebaran Robotic.

Iris and Nano

Iris Grace and NAO the robot from Dream

They will deliver the next generation robot-enhanced therapy (RET) working on three distinct interventions: focusing on joint attentionimitation, and turn-taking.  These three scenarios cover principle components of therapeutic interventions, with each scenario being further broken down into elements of increasing interaction complexity.

What is RAT/RET?

In clinical interventions, skill transfer from therapist to children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) benefits from the inclusion of expressive artefacts such as puppets and animated characters. Well-designed robotic agents have proven to be particularly effective and are becoming an increasingly important tool for mediating between therapists and ASD children in robot-assisted therapy (RAT). However, therapeutic interventions require significant human resources over extended periods. Consequently, to make a significant difference, therapeutic robots need to have a greater degree of autonomy than current remote-controlled systems. Furthermore, they have to act on more than just the child’s directly-observable movements because emotions and intentions are even more important for selecting effective therapeutic responses. The next generation of RAT, which we refer to as robot-enhanced therapy (RET), will be able to infer the ASD children’s psychological disposition and assess their behaviour in order to select therapeutic actions. Since children require therapy tailored to individual needs RET robots will provide this too. Driven by therapists, DREAM will deliver next-generation RET, developing clinical interactive capacities for supervised autonomy therapeutic robots; robots that can operate autonomously for limited periods under the supervision of a therapist. The DREAM robot will also function as a diagnostic tool by collecting clinical data during therapy. It will operate under strict ethical rules and the DREAM project will provide policy guidelines to govern ethically-compliant deployment of supervised autonomy RET.


Kathleen, Senior Research Fellow in the Ethics of Robotics from De Montfort University Leicester brought along NAO to the Little Explorers and they all had a great time finding out about him and seeing what the children thought.

Laurence had designed beautiful and engaging educational games for the children to play with in the garden while the robot was set up. Later there was a chance for parents to hear more about the project and see how their kids reacted to NAO. Out of all of the children Iris was the most interested, now everyone who knows her will understand how this wasn't an expected outcome, she loves nature, animals and painting but she found the robot intriguing and she started to really open up while she interacted with him. It just shows you never know what is going to work, don't shut any doors, keep your mind open, try new things & follow your child.


A Robot has landed on Earth and wants to find out all about the different habitats and the animals that live there.

lets find the animals

The treasure hunt begins...

where is the bear

To find the bear the children need to pick the right habitat for that animal.

forest water


where is the fish

This gives Laurence a chance to talk about the different habitats and add in things like 'shall we go left of right to find the fish?'

tundra water


Thula nd the elephant


at the end of the treasure hunt its time to bring all of the animals back up to the top of the garden and place them in the right habitat.

robot in the desert


robot in the water


robot in the grass

robot in the forest



down in the meadow


Laurence and Violet

Iris in the garden robot activity

Iris and Thula enjoying the shape sorting game on their treestump.

Thula and the shape game

Iris doing the activity


shape game

table set up

examples of how you can lay out activities on the theme.

shapes table

Iris with the toy robot

Iris inspecting the toy robot

toy robot

Hugo and Laurence

Laurence working with the children on the trampoline


Iris Jumping

Iris on the decking with the robot

The Little Explorers meeting NAO

Violet and the robot outside

Violet and the robot


Iris holding Nanos hands

Iris and Ruby

the robot and the children

robot at the club


Robot Nano

Thankyou so much Dream for this opportunity from all the Little Explorers.