Unit 3 – Intro to Assistive Tech

Now that we had covered the basics of engineering, working as a team, and programming, it was time to get to the heart of the class.  Making something that will actually help someone they meet is the driving force for all of the students in my class.  Most have an interest in electronics and making things, but all want to help someone in a tangible way.  Making something for someone they meet, and knowing that that person will use and benefit from their hard work is what keeps my students going on their projects.  Most would have either not signed up for the class or would quit once it gets tough.  I know this from experience with my students and because they have literally told me “if it wasn’t going to let him/her down I would have quit”.

Poster for the class

Before starting the class I put up posters advertising it around school and tried to talk to every student in my school about the class (we’re pretty small).

After four weeks of making things and programming, my students were getting antsy to start their project and meet the person they would invent something for.  Teens don’t always give themselves enough credit when they really deserve it so I try to remind them that what they’re doing is a big deal.  To do this I made this unit short, but full of discussion and reflection.

My presentations are a mix of discussions, Q&A, videos, writing assignments, and short activities.  That’s not always apparent from the slides themselves, but here they are.


Half of my class has or has a family member with a disability.  This brings good insight to the class but most have not had much interaction a severely disabled person.  It’s important for my students to feel comfortable enough to ask questions during our first meeting with the partnering program’s staff and students.  The next presentation/lesson was about what it’s like to have a disability and that the same people also have strengths that often get overlooked.  This was by far the most emotional lesson I’ve ever planned.  My four year old daughter has cerebal palsy and many of my worries about her came up over and over in the videos.

Gillette Children’s Hospital (who have done great things for my daughter) has a wonderful campaign called “Cure Pity“.  It’s hard not to shed a tear and smile while watching the Cure Pity videos so they started off the presentation.  After some discussions and reflections we watched a TED talk by Temple Grandin and then the wonderful documentary “Freedom Machines”.  Here is a worksheet I handed out and a collection of inspirational stories/videos I found.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *