Roanoke County students design and build device for classmate with cerebral palsy

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ROANOKE COUNTY, Virginia. – Meet 17-year-old Bermet Moore. She is a student at the Burton Center for Arts & Technology in Roanoke County.

Moore suffers from cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects his ability to speak, walk, and control his muscles. It is difficult for him to write or type.

Her English learning teacher, Margaret Whitt, wanted to help her.

“She had all the knowledge she needed, but the cerebral palsy sort of robbed her of her chance to fully participate as much as she wanted,” said Whitt.

She enlisted the help of Shawn Burns, the school’s mechatronics teacher. Mechatronics is a type of engineering that brings together mechanics, electronics, computer science and robotics.

He put his students to work designing, 3D printing, and building an adaptive digital wheel.

“We decided to make a ten-sided polygon and put the numbers in it from zero to nine and it would be a lot easier to roll and handle,” Burns said.

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John Gagnon, 16, a mechatronics student, jumped at the chance.

“It was the whole point of doing it, it was to make someone’s life a little easier, a little better,” said Gagnon. “Knowing that she was able to participate in this course like any other student should be able to do, the work was 100% worth it.

It took about a week and a half for the final product to be delivered to Moore on Tuesday.

Whitt already notices a difference.

“It really helped her react as quickly as the others and it gave her more confidence,” Whitt said.

Moore was all smiles. She said it helps her with her job and helps her learn.

“Is it good?” asked Whitt.

“Yeah, really good,” Moore said.

All in all, the device only costs around $ 12 to make, but for Moore, it’s worth a lot more.

Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.


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