Last week, a St. George classroom-full of middle-school students blended science, engineering and technology with a genuine desire to help real people--and CPD staff members were there to help it happen. "They were having a blast, and so was I," said Up to 3's Amy Henningsen, who went to provide her expertise as an occupational therapist. "We had the moms [of children with disabilities] present the child and their struggles," said Burke Jorgensen, a therapist with Dixie Regional Pediatric Rehabilitation. He brought in two families he worked with and had them talk about their needs to Angie Frabasilio's class at Sunrise Ridge Intermediate. "Then the kids had to find solutions to help them. I was amazed at how well they thought through the problems. Then they came up with some really good solutions, some I wish I had thought of." Henningsen and Logan AT Lab Coordinator Clay Christensen coached the students on assistive technology techniques. Their teacher, Angie Frabasilio, planned to have her students work on assistive technology this year, regardless. When their proposal to help children with disabilities gain more independence won $25,000 from the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition (they were winners at the state level), that was even better.
Students in St. George make devices for children with disabilities. That was before the CPD and other professionals came to their class. Now, they will put together a video of the activity they did last week, then submit it to Samsung for a chance to win at the national level. During last week's exercise, the AT Lab's Christensen arrived onsite with tri-wall (a thick corrugated cardboard packaging material) and PVC pipe--two favorite materials for assistive technology projects. "We asked them, 'What would you do, using this material?'" he said. Then the brainstorming began. The students learned to assess the needs of the families they met, then designed and built items like specialized chairs and a device that helped a girl who uses a wheelchair to stand. They also made a walker, iPad holder and specialized toy holder from PVC pipe. "It was beautiful because they wanted to make the design perfect for the kids," Jorgensen said. "Clay was the master builder, and then the clinical guys were in there saying, 'This is how the support needs to happen,'" Frabasilio said. "Amy's got such a natural way with kids, she can figure out what level the kids are at, and she was great at evaluating them. ... It was a great combination. The kids got a huge amount of experience with it." Adults also came in to participate--health care professionals, a student in training and several educators. Reporters were there, too. For a look at the action in the classroom, watch the ABC 4 News segment.