Students design prototype ‘Walking Boots’ for STEM project

Recently, students in Dr. Christopher Kelly’s technology classes at William Paca Middle School participated in a project focused on designing and modeling an ankle foot orthosis (AFO) for people with Cerebral Palsy. This project is part of the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) curriculum which empowers students to lead their own discovery.

According to Dr. Kelly, PLTW boosts classroom engagement and excitement, drives collaboration, inspires “aha! moments” and deep comprehension. As students engage in PLTW’s activities in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, they see a range of paths and possibilities they can look forward to in high school and beyond.

STEM project
A William Paca Middle School student demonstrates the walking boot (ankle foot orthosis) that she created along with members of her group.

Working in teams of three to four, students used “everyday” materials such as cardboard, water bottles, Velcro, felt pads and bubble wrap, to build a prototype AFO, which had to attach to and support the foot and ankle (including the heel and arch of the foot), allow movement at the ankle, be flat on the floor when standing, prevent the wearer from pointing or rising up on the toes, is comfortable, removable and not cause any sores or wounds.

After completing the prototype AFO, students presented and modeled their designs on a classroom runway and explained the process from concept to completion discussing the development of their design and plan, the challenges that they faced, the changes they made along the way and if they believed their final product would be successful in satisfying a patient’s needs.

“It really has been an adventure watching the students develop and build their foot orthosis designs,” said Dr. Kelly. “Each group had the same criteria but took completely different paths to come up with the desired results.”

Featured Photo: One of Christopher Kelly’s technology classes show the boots that they created for the ankle foot orthosis project.

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