Through the Georgia Innovation Fund grant, schools in Southwest Georgia have the opportunity to implement PLTW’s K-12 pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science for students. MPMS was awarded the three-year grant that provides access to the Project Lead the Way website’s instructional resources, curriculum, design software, and other materials needed for the prototypes created by the students.
Once the students have worked to learn about the design process they are then challenged and empowered to use and apply what they’ve learned throughout the unit to design a therapeutic toy for a child who has cerebral palsy.
Although the budget provides materials that the students can use to construct their toy or game, the groups mainly use recyclables like egg cartons, plastic bottle caps, and cardboard boxes.
Futch teaches 8th grade Physical Science and she has a hand in the selection of the student in the class.
“Because I teach in a traditional science class, I know who will have the work ethic and motivation to succeed,” said Futch.
In the beginning, Futch was hesitant about delivering the content of the class to the students because she was concerned that she didn’t have enough training. She immediately found through teaching the class that she was well-prepared and the students picked up on the concepts quickly.
“The students are so intuitive with technology and when they got engaged, they exceeded my expectations,” said Futch. “I have been so pleased with the outcome.”
Shemekia Clark and Yancey Kelly created a game called “Color Stick Bounce” which combined the bouncing of wooden spools onto dowels and bouncing metal washers into indentions in an egg carton. Clark not only learned steps in the design process, she also learned about the people with cerebral palsy for whom she was creating the game.
“I didn’t even know the disease had a name,” said Clark. “I now know that they have muscular issues and our game can help build stronger muscles.”
Ijuana Bradshaw, Lena Mickens, and Antony Davis crafted a game called “Mysteryland” that used a set of six-sided dice made from cardboard that are tossed from a cup so that the player can make moves on a board.
“We learned that people may need improvement with gesturing, and the things that they have to do when they play this game helps with wrist movement,” said Bradshaw.
Kiana Sapp, Tydarius Ivey, and Asia Monroe also focused on fine-motor muscle building, but they also took frustration-level into consideration in the creation of their toy.
“The person has to solve a puzzle with the sliced parts of a picture on popsicle sticks, but if it gets too hard then we numbered them on the back and they are still working muscles that help with gesturing,” said Sapp.
Kevin Andrews and Alexis Smith composed a stack of questions from all different subject areas that players must try to answer correctly. Correct answers are rewarded with a chance to shoot a basketball on a miniature court.
“The ball is special because they can squeeze it when answering the question, and then they have to work on the extension of their arm when shooting the ball,” said Andrews. “Hand grip strength can improve.”
The students overwhelmingly leaned toward the personal aspect in all of their design choices. Their intentions were thoughtful and researched to produce a fun, yet therapeutic toy. They will present their projects to fellow students in the class and to potential Design and Modeling students in younger grades.
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. More than 8,000 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs.
"Between now and the year 2020, STEM fields will introduce more than 79,000 new jobs to Georgia,” said Governor Nathan Deal. "With this multi-million dollar partnership between Project Lead The Way and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement in place, schools in the southwestern region of our state will be able to implement strategies that will better prepare our students of today to be our workforce of tomorrow.”