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This semester, Advanced Educational Services (AES) teacher Sergio Marquez’s class at Lynn Middle School completed a different sort of class project: building a customized, medically approved mobility device for a young student with mobility challenges.
Valley View Elementary student Hope Harrison has a very limited ability to move herself, which impacts her ability to learn new skills, and her therapy team recommended an option called a GoBabyGo car: an open-source design from the University of Delaware that converts a battery-powered toy car into a mobility device with accessible seating and controls, affordably providing motorized independent movement as early as possible. Hope’s therapists had a vision for giving Hope independent mobility, but they needed help with the engineering and building of the GoBabyGo car, so they reached out to both community partners and to Marquez and his students to work together to build Hope a GoBabyGo car.
To complete the project, students broke into three teams, supported by partners from the community. The engineering team, supported by shop manager Jon Simmons at Cruces Creatives, assembled the car from a kit, rewired the car for custom controls and built a platform that allows controls to be swapped out easily. The design team, working with Cruces Creatives (nonprofit) instructor and technician Alex Nipper, created custom decals with Hope’s name and – in recognition of her favorite sport – a baseball-themed graphics.
The media team, guided by Marquez, took pictures and video and interviewed students about their experiences. Additional partners – LCPS therapists Amber Diego, Amanda Lambright, Hallie Shelton, Jenny Coe-Stacy, Lizz Sosa, Andi Bundy and Karen Sivils – worked as consultants on which switches would work best for Hope and helped the students create and install custom seating for Hope.
The car worked on the first try, with Hope taking it for a successful test run around Cruces Creatives before bringing it to school for daily use.
Over the course of the project, students learned valuable lessons in helping others and real-world engineering and problem solving, including tool use: how to solder; how to use drills, saws, and assorted hand tools; and how to use recording equipment, video editing software, 2D-design software and a vinyl cutter.
The overall project was made possible through CommunityShare Las Cruces, which enhances education in the greater Las Cruces area by connecting teachers with community partners, classroom mini-grants, and access to the wide range of tools available through Cruces Creatives makerspace. The mission of this program is to improve life and educational outcomes for students in the greater Las Cruces area by involving the community in education to bring more diversity and role models into the classroom, make academic learning relevant and engaging by showing its real-world connections, make specialized knowledge and perspectives accessible, and offer learning through meaningful projects.
CommunityShare Las Cruces is led by Cruces Creatives in partnership with CommunityShare (an Arizona-based nonprofit), and the program is made possible thanks to generous support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, The Stocker Foundation, the Las Cruces Community Schools, the Nusenda Foundation, and the El Paso Community Foundation.
CommunityShare Las Cruces is open to all schools in the greater Las Cruces area, and teachers and community members can learn more about the CommunityShare Las Cruces program and sign up for free at www.communityshare.us/las-cruces.