STEM Students Creating Orthotics For Cerebral Palsy Patients
Project Lead The Way is a curriculum designed to provide students with opportunities, through projects and hands-on learning, to develop skills that are necessary to be successful in many STEM careers. This year, St. Ambrose Parish School seventh-grade students have a new learning opportunity as part of their STEM curriculum. They are joining other seventh-grade students across the United States in Project Lead The Way.
The students' first project is to build orthotics solutions for cerebral palsy patients. Students were provided background on cerebral palsy, challenges, and constraints needed for effective orthotics prototypes. Students then completed design standards and a decision matrix to identify best possible designs.
Students use and develop their critical thinking, teamwork and creativity skills to apply the design process to complete tasks such as digital modeling, designing and building toys for children who have cerebral palsy, coding, and building robots that have a function. The students just completed their first prototypes.
Project Lead The Way is designed to engage each student's natural curiosity and problem-solving and to show them the relevancy of math and science in the real world.
Chris Mullen, the school's high school preparatory director, is the leader for this project. As the first STEM-designated school in the state, he said students couldn't be more excited to stretch their wings with this new program on campus.
Students are engaging in the design and modeling curriculum in the first semester, and then the automation and robotics curriculum the second semester. In both, students will learn the process that engineers go through when designing a new product.
They will learn about how to draw and scale an idea for a product, and then they will create a 3D rendering of their product, then finally create and build an actual prototype. They will be working with a variety of tools and will have much at their disposal when designing and building.
It turns out that this is a tremendous opportunity that hits close to home, as Mullen's son, Jordan, who has cerebral palsy, came in recently to try on the orthotics prototypes. Students are now working on improvements in their designs based on this first trial.
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