TCA project promotes collaboration

By Rose O’Connor | Correspondent

Students honed their collaborative and problem-solving skills as they created the orthotic boot.

Developing a sense of compassion for persons with physical challenges and even finding a way to help them was the goal of a recent project conducted by the sixth-grade class in Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton.

As part of their Project Lead the Way Gateway STEM class, the students were recently tasked with designing an orthotic device for a young person with cerebral palsy.

In order to begin designing an orthotic shoe for a child with cerebral palsy, the students first learned basics about the disorder that affects muscle tone and posture. While there is no known cure for cerebral palsy, treatment is available, and often devices such as orthotics are used to help the patient with his or her mobility challenges.

The collaborative nature of the project was evident as the students reflected on the task that was completed in their technology classes over a three-week period. Each group was challenged to develop an orthotic that would keep the patient’s food flat, that would be reliable and easy to use and that would be comfortable for someone to wear for a period of time. The students were also given a list of supplies they could use to manufacture the prototype, including Velcro foam and cardboard, and were given a limited budget to purchase the supplies.

In addition to learning about cerebral palsy and the challenges those who are afflicted with the disorder, the students also learned how to use their gifts and talents and work effectively within a group.

“I was a little hesitant after I saw the video, but then I thought, I am pretty sure I can do this with the materials that were offered,” student Alan Marroquin Bednarska said.

“We really tried to make sure the orthotic would keep the foot flat and that it was comfortable for the patient,” classmate Bradley Tavares shared.

“We all needed to use teamwork to accomplish the task. It took a lot of work,” said Genesis Reyes, while peer Zavion Estrada remarked on how “we all worked together and had different responsibilities. We realized when we work together, we can accomplish a lot.”

“I was very impressed with how well both of the classes worked together, sharing the responsibilities of the task and using their unique talents and skill set to complete each step effectively,” said John Kocis, TCA’s PLTW coordinator. “Not only did they learn about the challenges those who have cerebral palsy faced they worked to find a solution for a real-world problem and they saw how important collaboration is, which is something they will continue to use in the years to come.”

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