High school robotics class is all about hands-on participation, but sometimes one student isn’t able to join the fun because of a disability.
Classmates in Wethersfield put their heads together to find a creative way to help a student with disabilities participate.
Kyle Flynn is a senior at Wethersfield High School, and has cerebral palsy. He is wheelchair-bound and has limited mobility and isn’t able to use his hands.
Kyle and his twin brother Ryan joined the Robotics and Engineering class where they have been working on making robots and driving them around.
His teacher, Behn Sikora, came up with a way Kyle could participate with a personalized controller.
“In figuring out a way to get Kyle involved in class, one of the things we found out is that he can use a head switch because he can move his head back and forth,” said Sikora, who is the Robotics & Engineering teacher.
Junior, Shawn Bertucio, helped draw up plans for a modified controller.
“After we brainstormed a few ideas, I was the one that just went into how it works, then drew it up and then sent it to the 3d printer,” Bertucio said.
What they came up with was simple but effective.
“It kind of looks like and Xbox or PlayStation joystick. So we 3d printed a larger button onto the joystick, fastened it on there, we put the entire contraption onto the wheelchair so now when Kyle moves his head he is then able to go ahead and move the robot around,” Sikora said.
As part of the lesson plan, the students set up obstacle courses or competitions and they are extremely competitive.
Kyle is set to graduate soon and is carrying an "A" in robotics.
"I got into teaching to help kids, so it's amazing to see these kids be successful in my class,” Sikora said.
He added that the class is all about getting students interested and involved.
They also have a Robotics Club after school where they are working on an underwater robot and other assisted living robots.
He also said students can start making a career out of playing with controllers.
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