Our Experience With the New Design and Modeling

Dr. Christopher Kelly is a STEM Technology Educator at William Paca Middle School in Mastic Beach, New York. Dr. Kelly is also a business owner.

I'd like to share my class's experience with Activity 1.1 in the new Design and Modeling unit.

The students led the class and enjoyed this activity. Working in teams of three to four, students used everyday materials such as cardboard, water bottles, fabric fasteners, felt pads, and bubble wrap to build a prototype ankle-foot orthosis (AFO). The constraints for their design: AFO must 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 wearer is standing; prevent the wearer from pointing or rising up on the toes; and be 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 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.

For me, it was an experience. I was nervous ... who wouldn't be with something they have never done before? But as educators, we rely on the training we received and we believe in the process. The training I received over the summer was exceptional, and PLTW's Solution Center Team has been top-notch in answering all of my questions to date. I honestly feel like I have been doing this for years instead of just months. I am already looking forward to the next activity, and I cannot wait to head back to Core Training to learn the next unit of PLTW Gateway.  

Furthermore, as someone with administrative aspirations, I already know I will be pushing this program in any district I am lucky enough to work in. It works. I have been teaching STEM and a STEM-related curriculum for over 10 years, and this program has the depth to really transcend and relate to today's student.  

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.