Middle school students in Conshohocken, PA have found that perhaps the best way to learn about complex new technologies involves hands-on projects with global volunteerism. With support from e-NABLE community volunteers, Ms. Brandon’s class at Aim Academy has been assembling and customizing 12 Phoenix v2 hands this semester as part of their ‘Be the Change you Wish to See in the World’ unit.
The class concluded by meeting with e-NABLE organizers to discuss their experiences and the impact of the project. The school is oriented around interactive activities for students with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. The school leadership was so impressed with the achievements of the students that they hope to include the e-NABLE project as a recurring program in the curriculum.
The collaboration began when Kathy Brandon, a teacher at AIM Academy, reached out through enablingthefuture.org to get her students involved. Jeremy Simon guided the teams on device design and organized free assembly kits to be donated to the school by sponsoring companies. Meanwhile, volunteer maker Dennis Ward of Erie, Colorado spent several weeks printing all the parts for Kathy’s students to assemble (using almost 5kg of filament to complete!).
The students put together a variety of adult, teen, and children-scaled hands and experimented with thermoforming jigs to adjust the devices for custom fitting. When everything was assembled, the class connected with engineering students in Gaza through an interactive portal and shared the hands they built. Maria Esquela will be managing the device distribution after the students complete the hands, partnering with groups who support Syrian refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. She met with the class to discuss the process and inform them about the impact their work can have in the lives of the recipients. The students were most impressed to learn from Maria about the ocean clean up project ‘Million Waves‘ that turns plastic trash into filament. The school is now looking into incorporating a beach clean up event for the future.
A big thank you goes out teacher Kathy Brandon for initiating the project to ‘eNABLE the curriculum’ as well as all of her students for their efforts in lending a hand to our community.
e-NABLE activities have been adopted by hundreds of schools. To learn more about e-NABLE’s educational activities, check out enablealliance.org, the e-NABLE Educators Alliance on Facebook, and our new Educator’s Exchange on the Hub!