Eighth graders at KIPP Academy spent the past month embracing the world of engineering design and STEM research so they could lend helping hands.
Project Lead the Way brings hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) experiences into classrooms. As part of this new curriculum, students at the local charter school used 3D printers to design therapeutic toys for children with cerebral palsy.
“It’s an organization that really pushes students at all levels to be creative, hands on, and to show what they know,” said Amal Mohamed, the KIPP Academy teacher in charge of the new curriculum. “Our students were introduced to a middle schooler with cerebral palsy and from there they were given a challenge where they were to help the patient function with their daily tasks.”
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development, — before birth, during birth, or immediately after birth. The disorder affects body movement and muscle coordination.
The KIPPsters, as the eighth graders are called, designed toys with the goal of helping patients develop and strengthen muscles in fingers, hands, and wrists. They worked in teams to develop their ideas and will have a chance to present their designs at Boston Children’s Hospital later this year. On Monday, the students unveiled their initial designs as practice to get helpful classmate feedback.
“I didn’t know what cerebral palsy was called until Ms. Mohamed started teaching us about it,” said Piero Canales, a student taking part in the project. “The most fun part was designing it on the computer.”