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Frost STEM students designing therapeutic toys

Two students working togetherStudents in Charley Shroyer’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes at Frost Junior High are hard at work on their latest challenge: creating toys that could be used during occupational therapy with children who have physical, sensory or cognitive challenges.

The therapeutic toy the students create must incorporate universal design – meaning it is appropriate and accessible for use by all children – but also address the needs of children with cerebral palsy, which they learned about from a video featuring a Mayo Clinic occupational therapist, Shroyer said.

“They have to use all the engineering design process skills that we’ve taught them throughout the year,” Shroyer said.

Working in teams, the students created a model on the computer and are now in the midst of building their prototypes, which they will present next week. Their designs include a game in which participants locate an object inside a box by feel; a puzzle with thick, easy-to-hold pieces; and blocks with varying textures.

To help prepare her students for the project, Shroyer invited District 54 Assistive Technology Facilitators Carol Gruszeczki and Tracy Conlin to come and talk about their work and demonstrate modified equipment they have used with students such as electronic scissors, recorded storybooks and cups that hand-toss dice.

“Their work with students in District 54 is what my students are trying to do, so it was an excellent real-world example,” Shroyer said. “My students got to see modifications they could potentially use in their designs.”