A Special Technology Project Links Learning to Functional Applicability
Ms. Lisa Yokana is the STEAM Coordinator at Scarsdale High School, offering a sequence of courses that include, “Introduction to Design and Fabrication,” “Introduction to Engineering,” “Robotics,” “Physical Computing/Wearables,” “Design and Building,” “Design for Modern Production” and “Entrepreneurship.” This Fall, Ms. Yokana and a few of her students attended a workshop at DIY Ability on the subject of “toy hacking,” which relates to adapting toys for special populations. Immediately, Ms. Yokana recognized the value of teaching her students this skill set, while merging it with an empathic and functional experience where the results of their efforts would have a beneficial effect on the lives of others. In a collaborative effort with IAHD’s Speech Pathologists, toys were identified that would be appropriate for “hacking,” and these included spin art and spirometer type art activities that could be activated with a switch. A bubble machine was also modified for switch usage.
On December 21, 2017, Speech Pathologists, Cara Levy and Sohodra Singh, invited Rima Nesheiwat to represent her peers at IAHD, and together, they traveled to Scarsdale High School to meet with the STEAM class. We met an amazing group of motivated and bright students, who were unbelievably facile in building switches, adapting toys and committed to the project of sending us home with switches and activities that the men and women at the IAHD Tarrytown Day program would be able to operate on their own. Rima carried home her art project that she had created using a bilaterally adapted switch. The opportunities that these devices will give people with limited mobility to actively participate in art projects and other activities left us filled with gratitude and wonder.
The prospects for future collaborations and the opportunities to use STEAM learning to really make a difference in the lives of the people supported by IAHD were discussed, and we are all energized by the prospects of working together in the future. We are deeply indebted to Ms. Yokana, her students and Scarsdale High School for the supplies, the talent and their generosity.