Skip to main content

RAFT inspires Stanford student to design hands on Activity Kit for children with special needs

When I first walked into my 'Perspectives in Assistive Technology' class at Stanford, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know much about assistive technology, except for what I’ve learned growing up with my younger autistic brother, and I didn’t have much experience designing in the field. However, what I did know was my goal for the class: to design a device that would allow children with autism, like my brother, to communicate.

Through the RAFT project - to design an affordable, hands-on educational activity kit for children with disabilities - I was able to pursue that goal, while simultaneously gaining experience as a designer. At the end of the eight weeks, I came up with the ‘Spin a story’ Activity Kit, using RAFT materials, that provides several simple ways for students to express themselves. A mixture of three activities – sequencing, storyboarding and sorting – the kit encourages students to initiate their own thoughts with a variety of textual and visual prompts. The materials used in the activity include magnetic sheets, stickers, plastic bottle caps, and blank flashcards – things that are commonly found and easily upcycled.

Looking back now, I don’t think I could have chosen to work on a better project that suited my goals and skills! For one, the experience of going through the design thinking process – from brainstorming and need finding to prototyping and ideation – was simply an incredible learning experience. I had never worked on a design project by myself prior to this one (all of my past projects were team projects), so it was definitely a new experience trying to keep myself consistently on-track and be creative at the same time.
It was also wonderful to work closely with RAFT, and to learn more about the organization. During the eight weeks of the course, I was able to meet many incredible RAFT individuals and teachers dedicated to finding new ways for their students to learn. I learned that there are many ways to keep hands on educational activities simple, fun, affordable and easily available to one and all, if you just think creatively. 

On the whole, it is a gratifying feeling to realize the positive social impact this project will have in the area of education.

By Krystal Le.
 Krystal Le is a Sophomore at Stanford University studying Mechanical Engineering. She recently worked with RAFT to design an affordable and accessible hands-on Activity Kit for children with special needs.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Are you ready for Pi?

Time to get ready fer Pi Day at RAFT me hearties!  Set yer compasses an’ sails fer FREE Pi Day activities on March 8thbetween 3:30 to 5:30 on th’ main poop deck (aye-aye in th’ “Kit Area”) at SJ RAFT!
RAFT’s very own notorious wench, Jeanne Lazzarini (RAFT Math Master Educator), prepared a boatload of Pi Day activities to share with yer classes fer Pi Day (celebrated on March 14th every year)! Pi, (also written as π; th’ ratio of th’ circumference of a circle to its diameter) be an irrational number that goes on forever without any repeating digits, starting with 3.14159… π is illustriously celebrated over land an’ high seas March 14th (get it? On 3.14…!).    Discover great “make-an’-take” Pi day activities that prepare ye fer real Pi day!  Here’s a RAFT idea sheet fer Pi Day you can use now: Pi Day Pin. Make sure X marks th’ spot on ye calendars this March 8th, or walk th’ plank me scallywags!   Shiver me timbers an’ yo-ho-ho!  ‘Tis a RAFTy life fer me, Bucko!!!  Arrrgggghhhhh!

¡Olé! Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

¡Olémis amigos! Holy Guacamole! It’s once again time to celebrate Cinco De Mayo—the 5th of May! Instead of all the controversy around Mexico in the past year, this may be an excellent opportunity to educate your students and allow them to ask questions about what they hear on the news. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day from Spain (which is September 16th)! “¡Ay, caramba!”as Bart Simpson would say….

This is “la verdad” (the truth): when the French invaded Mexico in 1862, Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza’s force of 4,000 soldiers defeated 8,000 French soldiers in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th. The Mexicans’ courage inspired Mexican Americans (Chicanos) to celebrate the victory even though the French occupation continued four more years. Later in the 1960’s and 70’s, Chicanos involved in the civil rights movement associated Cinco de Mayo with their quest for respect in the U.S. They identified with the Native Mexican and Mestizo (people of mixed Native Mexican and European de…

CUSD Shares Possible STEAM Projects by Grade

Twelve STEAM Innovation Leaders from the Campbell Unified School District (CUSD) came to RAFT earlier this month to create new motivational activities for the start of the school year!  They met in grade-level teams with our RAFT Education staff to generate new ideas using RAFT materials that will motivate, challenge, and inspire their students. Each team was given a RAFT Makerspace-in-a-Box containing a wide variety of upcycled materials. They were asked to create a Design Challenge that directed students to solve the instructor’s challenge with the materials from the box. The Design Challenges addressed an engineering standard appropriate for each grade level and could include standards from other subjects. Here are some of their exciting back-to-school ideas:
************************************************************************************* Grades TK – 2 Engineering Standard: K-2-ETS1-1:  Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to chan…