Tag Archives: science leadership academy

Maker Spaces Launched at Easterseals SE PA with Workshops

by Sandy Masayko

The Assistive Technology Department, working in collaboration with our grant funder Comcast and our community partners Science Leadership Academy, Drexel University, Project Vive and MakerBot, is excited to report that our development of Maker Spaces at Easterseals SE PA is well underway! This project consists of two parts: Education of Easterseals staff and local high school student education to provide the basis for creation of Assistive Technology (AT); and setting up maker spaces at each Easterseals SE PA approved private school. The maker spaces will be supplied with 3D printers, soldering kits, moldable plastics, tools, and more. But before anyone can use this new high tech equipment, they need to learn how to design solutions to meet needs and the basics of use of the tools. To meet this need, the AT Department organized two workshops in the fall.

Workshop 1 was held at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Design in September and focused on 3D printing. After a review of AT by Sandy Masayko and an overview of the multiple use of 3D printers by Laurie McGowan, Laura Slatkoff shared her personal experiences in discovering 3D printing and using it to make a customized keyguard for a student. Marcia Leinweber introduced step by step instructions for Computer Assisted Design. Mary Elizabeth McCulloch of Project Vive presented concepts to consider in the design process. The thirty participants then got to work on their shared computers to design the top of a switch. AT Staff members, assisted by Science Leadership Academy (SLA) students who were familiar with 3D design, coached the participants. During the workshop, the SLA students increased their knowledge of AT, and they also videoed and photographed the workshop. At the end of the workshop, Easterseals staff members had homework to complete over the two months before the next workshop: participants were asked to finish their designs and email them to Marcia for printing on the Makerbot 3D printer.

The next workshop, held at SLA in November, allowed the participants to complete their design by constructing a switch for AT. Switch assembly necessitated soldering and wiring of the switch, activities taught by Mary Elizabeth and Joey McCulloch from Project Vive. The participants also learned what tools were in the Maker Spaces and how to use them. Laurie McGowan led participants in creating battery interrupters that can be used to enable toys and devices to be activated with a switch. Sandy introduced how to use a moldable plastic that can be used to create adaptations. As with the first workshop, the SLA students proved to be great coaches to ES staff members as they learned to wire and solder.

Response by the staff to the workshop was overwhelmingly positive. In our pre and post testing for each workshop, the staff members indicated that they significantly increased their knowledge of AT, 3 D printing and tools for creating solutions for people with disabilities. The next phase of the project will be establishment of the Maker Spaces at each approved private school sites. We can’t wait to see what our staff will create!

Engineers to the Rescue!

by Sandy Masayko

Three amazing groups of volunteers have given Easter Seals of SEPA valuable service by repairing adapted electronic toys and speech generating devices for our students. Each repair saves Easter Seals at least $60 and, more importantly, puts the toys and equipment back where it belongs: in the hands of our students. The three groups that have helped us are the Senior Engineering Students at the Science Leadership Academy, a Philadelphia public high school; Dan Frank, graduate engineering student at the University of Florida, who has organized groups to help us at least three times in the past; and Project Vive, a non-profit under the direction of Mary Elizabeth McCulloch in State College. Here are the details about each group’s contribution:

After visiting Easter Seals to see the kinds of toys that our students need, the Science Leadership Academy students repaired toys in their lab at their high school. They returned them in December and then spent more time in the classrooms seeing how adaptations can promote participation. Their next project is to design toys and switches.

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Toy repairs completed by Science Leadership Academy

Dan Frank, a doctoral student in engineering at the University of Florida, has organized toy repair and ride-on car adaptations for Easter Seals in the past by recruiting his friends and fellow students. This December he came through for us again by spending a day of his vacation at our Bucks County Division repairing toys. Each year on the day before holiday break, Dan brings a few of his friend with him in what is becoming a yearly tradition for the AT Center at Bucks. This December, for the third year in a row, he came through for us again by spending a day of his vacation repairing toys with his sister Janelle and longtime friend from high school, Samantha.

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Volunteers Janelle Frank, Samantha Ahern and Dan Frank

Project Vive really came to the rescue! This organization, which is dedicated to designing low cost speech generating devices, took away broken items in October and returned at the end of January with 62 toys and speech generating devices. The toy delivery coincided with Project Vive’s leadership in conducting a workshop to switch-adapt commercially available electrically powered child sized ride on Jeeps for our students. Muchas Gracias to Project Vive! To learn more about Project Vive visit: http://www.projectvive.com

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Easter Seals AT Department was amazed by Project Vive’s delivery of 62 toys and speech generating devices on January 30, 2017.

Here are some photos of Project Vive in action repairing toys:

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Project Vive’s soldering, rewiring and TLC got these cows to moo and a bug to squeak.

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Elmo required thoracic surgery at the Project Vive hospital.

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Project Vive took responsibility for testing the repairs!

Thank you to all the engineers who helped repair our toys and speech devices!

Science Leadership Academy

by Sandy Masayko

Nine Senior Engineering students from the Science Leadership Academy, a Philadelphia public magnet high school, and their teacher, John Kamal, visited Easter Seals at the end of October.  Prior to their visit the students interviewed Sandy Masayko using FaceTime to learn about projects that required engineering solutions.  Learning that the students at Easter Seals need to have toys adapted to meet their special needs, the students selected Easter Seals as a site for their engineering and design project.  After an introduction to concepts of Assistive Technology, the student engineers toured the school and observed children and teachers in action. The students have now begun their project by taking apart and repairing switch operated and adapted toys back at their lab at the Science Leadership Academy.

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Laurie McGowan, Assistive Technology Specialist, demonstrates to students how eye gaze technology works.