Seventh grade Design and Modeling students recently put on their engineering hats to design, test and build a foot orthosis to aid a (theoretical) child with cerebral palsy. After learning about cerebral palsy, which affects a person’s movement and muscle coordination, it was up to the students to figure out a way to meet the requirements of this “instant design challenge.” Technology teacher Tyler Cowherd gave them a limited amount of time and materials with which to create an orthosis that needed to, among other things, attach to the patient’s foot and leg, place the foot flat on the ground and support the foot and ankle when standing, allow upward movement at the ankle, and be comfortable to wear. The students worked in teams to design, build, and test their ideas. There are many ways to solve a problem and each group was responsible for documenting and presenting to their class the methodology they used to create their final product.
Design and Modeling is a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) learning opportunity at CMS and the second PLTW (Project Lead The Way) course to now be offered at the school. PLTW courses provide a nationally certified project-based STEAM curriculum. Last year, CMS began offering PLTW Robotics for eighth graders, while CHS has offered PLTW courses for many years.