UofL Engineering Class Using 3D Printers to Teach STEM to Children with Disabilities

A new elective course for engineering students at the University of Louisville is helping to ensure that visually impaired students are not at a disadvantage when learning STEM.With the use of 3D printers, the course’s dozen students create physical tools for blind students. “The first layer is the most important because it prints from the bottom up,” said junior chemical engineering student Matt Franxman. Line by line, detail by detail, students will spend this semester transforming an image of their head into an object in their hands. The finished product will go directly to the Kentucky School of the Blind. “I had never touched a 3D printer before this course,” Franxman said. Even so, Franxman said joining the course was a no-brainer, and on day one he came ready with a big idea: a board. periodic. “But then, you know, braille,” Franxman said. “They can’t see, so it’s like how are you going to do that?” A question he will be working on all semester to answer. In this process, Assistant Professor Dr. Vance Jaeger said Franxman will also learn what their class is about. “Accessibility,” Jaeger said. “A lot of times our students design things, and they design them for the general public, but it’s all little things that we can change in our designs that we create to make them really accessible to people with disabilities.” Jaeger came up with the idea for this class last summer after speaking with a teacher at Kentucky School for the Blind. “He was interested in reaching his students more,” Jaeger said. “We talked about some of the concepts he had trouble teaching his students.” A few conversations later, he and Jaeger came up with a plan to get UofL students to help out. Jaeger said that in the end, the 13 students in his class will have helped take hands-on learning to a whole new level, while leveling the playing field for others. Franxman said he enjoyed every minute of it. the university offers this option. This was made possible by a $25,000 grant from NASA. student projects as they develop them. It has been very interesting to see how they choose to approach and develop these models, especially since people (like most of the general population) who don’t have much experience with visual impairments or blindness. I hope that as we work together, these young engineers can incorporate the idea of ​​universal access into their careers in the future. , and their responses and revisions based on my feedback have been exciting to watch. We haven’t reached the point yet where my students at the school for the blind have given their input on the projects, but I plan to be able to share some of what the UofL students have come up with in the coming weeks. “After that, we should be able to get some final revisions for the completed models. The goal is that these models, once they are developed and the lessons/curricula have been written for them, can be put on the web for anyone else to be able to produce and use in their classroom. I would love to see them used not only for students who are blind or visually impaired, but also for the rest of the young learning population. STEM content; it’s an opportunity to educate everyone about disabilities and be differently able.”

A new elective course for engineering students at the University of Louisville helps ensure students with visual impairments are not at a disadvantage when learning STEM.

With the use of 3D printers, the dozen or so students in the course create physical tools that blind students can work with.

“The first layer is the most important because it prints from the bottom up,” said junior chemical engineering student Matt Franxman.

Line by line, detail by detail, students will spend this semester transforming an image of their head into an object in their hands. The finished product will go directly to the Kentucky School of the Blind.

“I had never touched a 3D printer before this course,” Franxman said.

Even so, Franxman said joining the class was a no-brainer, and on day one he came ready with a big idea: a periodic table.

“But then, you know, braille,” Franxman said. “They can’t see, so that’s it?” »

A question he will be working on all semester to answer. In this process, Assistant Professor Dr. Vance Jaeger said Franxman will also learn what their class is about.

“Accessibility,” Jaeger said. “A lot of times our students design things, and they design them for the general public, but it’s all little things that we can change in our designs that we do to make them really accessible to people with disabilities.”

Jaeger came up with the idea for this course last summer after speaking with a teacher from the Kentucky School for the Blind.

“He [the KSB teacher] was interested in reaching more of his students,” Jaeger said. “We talked about some of the concepts he struggled to teach his students.

A few conversations later, he and Jaeger came up with a plan to get UdeL students to help out.

Jaeger said that ultimately, the 13 students in his class will have helped take hands-on learning to a whole new level, while leveling the playing field for others.

Franxman said he was enjoying every minute.

“It’s really cool,” Franxman said.

This is the first semester that the university is offering this choice. It was made possible by a $25,000 grant from NASA.

In a statement sent to us, a statement from KSB wrote:

“During the semester, I had a few opportunities to meet and provide feedback on UofL student projects as they developed them. It was very interesting to see how they choose to to address and develop these models, especially as people (like most of the general population) who don’t have much experience with visual impairments or blindness. I hope that as we have worked together , these young engineers will be able to integrate the idea of ​​universal access into their future careers.

“I have really enjoyed reviewing their proposals and designs so far, and their responses and revisions based on my feedback have been exciting to see. We haven’t reached the point where my school students for blind people have given their opinions on the projects yet, but I plan to be able to share some of what the UdeL students have come up with in the coming weeks.

“After that, we should be able to get final revisions for the models. The goal is that these models, once they are developed and lessons/curricula have been written for them, can be put on the web for anyone else to be able to produce and use in their classroom I would like these to be used not only for students who are blind or visually impaired but also for the rest of the population of young people learning the STEM content; it’s an opportunity to educate everyone about different disabilities and abilities.”

About Mark A. Tomlin

Check Also

2022 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence Winners Announced

Jules KA Hoepting (left) and Anders Lewis with President Stephen H. Kolision Jr. Two brilliant …