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Assistive Technology Projects Featured!
I have written in the past about the Assistive Technology projects my engineering students have created usingthe MakeyMakey as the primary electronics interface and Instructables as the medium for public display. I am proud to share that the team at MakeyMakey has shared the work of my students via a featured blog post. Click here to read.
Over the past two weeks I had the opportunity to develop and teach an elective class to expose students with no prior knowledge in Robotics to basic engineering and program via the Intersession program at my school. The program went well and the students seemed to benefit from a simplified/clear structure that leveraged autonomous robotics (via Lego EV3) and RC Robotics (via VEX V5) as the overarching pedagogical structure. Click here to access the curriculum for those of you who are also interested in introducing students to basic robotics at your school site or in your programs.
In my Engineering for Social Good elective I instituted "Lab Practicals" rather than formal exams and quizzes. Mastering Computer Assisted Design (CAD), via Fusion360, has been a constant thread throughout the class. CAD mastery was facilitated through weekly challenges organized in a Padlet "Shelf" where students would respond to a video tutorial by repeating it then making four alterations of their own. Students would then upload their product and explain their modifications in the shelf for all to see. Click here to see student work in padlet. This process facilitated mechanical/algorithmic knowledge of Fusion360, while integration of CAD into our projects and practicals promoted application of CAD.
Keeping the above in mind, for the Lab Practical of the semester I wanted to students to embrace the mission of service central to the engineering elective class while also applying their CAD content. Serendipitously, my freshman Biology class was in the middle of an activity where they were investigating fed blood cells under a Compound Light Microscope. Students were asked to use their phones to capture images of normal and sickled red blood cells. While many students were able to do this, pictures were shaky and the process of balancing the phone limited their ability to zoom in on the red blood cells and take quality images. I know devices exist to balance phones over microscopes for this exact purpose, but then the idea hit me: Why don't I have my engineering students partner with my Biology students and leverage Design Thinking? So that is what we did! and it worked out great!
Click here to see the template used to organize and assess student work and here to see an exampled of a completed student project. See image below for the prototype that ended up being the most transferrable to all student devices and microscopes.
I have written previously about Assistive Technology projects I have implemented as part of my engineering elective courses. I revamped this project in my Engineering for Social Good class last semester, organizing the pedagogy around a structured Design Thinking Cycle, with Spastic Cerebral Palsy patients as the defined end user and Instructables as the primary public display medium. Click here and here to view two different final student Instructables.