STEM students working on Cerebral Palsy projects

Jack Unger, left, and Ricky Alonso stand next to the STEM class’s 3D printer that they have been working with for their project.
Jack Unger, left, and Ricky Alonso stand next to the STEM class’s 3D printer that they have been working with for their project.

The eighth grade STEM students in Mr. Allison’s class at Fairfield middle school have been working since the beginning of November on creating programs and inventions that could help people with Cerebral Palsy.

“Students are going through the design process from brainstorming to creating a prototype,” said Allison. “It’s a very challenging process full of problem solving, collaboration and learning new skills to design the new therapy toy.”

Some students such as Mikael Anderson and Dillan Post have created a computer program for people with CP that they can use to help move their joints. They pair is also working on a memory game.

Anderson said the biggest challenge is “starting from scratch and building a computer that can run the program well and fine.”

Post said their program also helps people with their fine motor skills because they have to type with their fingers.

Post added that his favorite part of the project has been the freedom to choose what they want to do, and hopes they can take their project to elementary schools or places with people that have CP so they can test it.

“Mikael and I are non-stop thinking about ways we can improve this and we’re trying to tear apart an old computer right now,” added Post.

Several other groups are working on various ideas, including Jack Unger and Ricky Alonso who created a puzzle that when put together can be tossed like a ball.

“It helps with fine motor skills,” explained Unger. “It’s challenging also because each piece has a different way to insert with each other and there are seven different levels you have to put in and when its together you can throw it.”

Unger said he really wanted to make a ball and “thought of doing this because we have cubes we’ve been using.”

The most fun part for him has been building the actual 3D object on sketch up and he said his whole life he’s been interested in computer robotics.

“So it kind of does make me want to be involved with 3D printing and working on improving the technology, so that it can be used on a greater scale,” added the eighth grader.

Alonso said, “Setting up the 3D program was probably the most challenging and we downloaded the program, but we couldn’t figure out how to load the filament until now.”

The pair is having fun, “even though we haven’t really printed anything yet, but once we do, it will be pretty cool,” added Alonso who said his dad is an engineer and showed him some things.

“I used to make stuff on his AutoCAD program and that was fun, but I don’t know if I’ll do anything with it when I grow up. Maybe.”