Lakota East's Engineering Club Project Offers Mobility, Freedom

Lakota East's Engineering Club Project Offers Mobility, Freedom
Posted on 05/29/2017
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Students from the Butler Tech Introduction to Engineering Design class at Lakota East and the school’s Engineering Club may have been pleased with their recently completed project – but the children and their families who received the projects could hardly contain their excitement. 

As a part of a national program called “Go Baby Go” these students have built specially modified vehicles to present to the families of two toddlers with mobility issues.  “Go Baby Go” is a program that provides modified, ride-on cars to young children with disabilities so they can move around independently. 

The modified toy cars give children with mobility disabilities a chance to play and socialize with their peers more easily.  According to “Go Baby Go!” research has shown that independent mobility is linked to cognitive, social, motor, language and other developmental benefits in young children. 

Being pushed in a stroller or being carried from one place to another is fundamentally different from having active control over one’s own exploration, which is where the developmental gains are seen.

And, for many of the high school students, the highlight of their work was seeing the child’s joy at their newfound freedom.  

According to teacher Ken Kinch, “Our students dedicated hours of their time, both in-class and after school, in order to design and build two modified cars to adapt personally to each toddler.”

He adds, “This project would not have been possible without the help of Jesse Dornan and his Metals class.  Mr. Dornan and his class dedicated time and machinery to assist our team in fabricating a servo arm for one of the car’s steering system.”

The students worked with physical therapists and other medical experts to understand each child’s medical needs and to determine what adaptations would work with their physical limitations. 

One of the cars was built for a toddler who has mobility issues with his legs. The engineering students modified the car to allow the child to operate the vehicle through a large button on the steering wheel. To bolster safety, a harness  and  frame were installed to provide more back support, as well as a parent override switch. 

Similar modifications were made to the second car, which was built for a toddler with mobility issues with both his arms and legs. The child can operate the car using his head to engage a switch mounted on an arm. This new steering system will be controlled by a radio control system so the parent can also steer the vehicle. 

Click here for the Ch. 12 coverage of this story.