For some people, there’s no such thing as a problem without a solution.
When a group of middle school students in New York entered a robotics competition, they recognized it as the challenge they’d been searching for!
The Rocky Point Robo Eagles club is made up of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders who love competing at the annual Long Island robotics championship. The LEGO-sponsored event tasks students with building, coding, and programing robots to complete timed missions. This year, they were also asked to identify a need in their community — and solve it!
The Robo Eagles didn’t have to look beyond their own team for inspiration.
Alex Grundmann is a 14-year-old who uses a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. He happily joined their club, but after a year, he was ready to quit because the competition tables were simply too high to accommodate him.
Mark Moorman, the Robo Eagles’ coach, said once the students decided to take on Alex’s dilemma, he just stood back and let them take over. “Seriously, they all researched it, they went into the ADA, the American Disabilities Act, all the research specifications,” he explained. “They actually designed it.”
They presented Alex with a portable ramp that gives him height-appropriate access to the table. Then they tested it out at a qualifier match in February, and it worked like a charm!
“The referees and stuff, they were just looking like, ‘What is this thing?’” teammate Kristian Hald said. “They saw Alex … and they were like, ‘Wow, this is your project?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, this is our project,’ and they thought it was cool.”
Alex said having the ramp as the team’s project made him feel more included than ever before! He’s also thrilled that their invention could eventually reach other kids and adults who use wheelchairs.
“I’m definitely proud that we were able to come up with something so simple that can help me and so many other people,” he said.
What a wonderful way to use their talents for good. Awesome job, Robo Eagles!
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