St. Ursula students design mobility device
Written by CHRISTINE A. HOLLIDAY, Special to the Chronicle
Thursday, 12 March 2015 03:00
TOLEDO—Science in the classroom is one thing, science for real life is something even better. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) team at Toledo St. Ursula Academy is putting their school lessons into a real-life project that is having an immediate impact on the lives of several people.
The team, under the direction of physics teacher Jackie Kane, has been working on a project originally submitted for competition In the SourceAmerica Design Challenge. That national engineering competition invited high school and college students to design workplace technology for people with disabilities. Entrants had to invent a process, device, system or software for a more productive work environment, and they had to partner with an organization that employs people with disabilities or with a person with a disability.
The team at St. Ursula teamed up with a man who does data entry at Kohne Camera and Photo. His cerebral palsy makes entering computer data difficult. He has to steady his hand over the key he wants to punch and then keep his hand steady as he lowers his hand to the keyboard. Moving the hand from one key to the next is equally difficult, so he was willing to try the Swivel and Slide, a mobile articulating arm support device invented by the STEM Club girls.
The device allows their client to rest his typing arm on a support device that moves in all directions, making it easier for him to relax his arm and fingers as he types. The girls asked him to test the device, and the results were exactly what they had hoped for: an improvement in his typing speed by 32 percent.
After their project was featured in a story on WTVG TV-13 they heard from a parent who saw the piece and asked them to design one for her autistic daughter. They assembled one for the young girl, decorating it with stickers of her favorite cartoon characters and are hoping to hear that she is responding well to the Swivel 'n' Slide. In the meantime, they have built more to give to other test users.
The STEM team at St. Ursula has won several competitions, and look forward to continuing to put what they learn in the classroom into real world applications. They are looking into the possibility of getting a patent for the Swivel 'n' Slide, a process Mrs. Kane describes as "an excellent learning experience for the girls."
|Sabrina Coffman, left, and Claire Hyder work on making Swivel 'n' Slides in the physics lab at Toledo St. Ursula Academy. |
The two are members of the STEM Club that designed the device to help
make it easier for those with disabilities to type on a keyboard. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Kane)