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Burton Center students create device for student with cerebral palsy

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 4:29 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - A 3-D printer, about $12 worth of materials, and inspiration from a popular game show has changed the way one student learns.

“She had all the knowledge that she needed, but the cerebral palsy was robbing her from the opportunity to fully participate as much as she wanted to,” noticed Margaret Whitt, the secondary ESL instructor at the Burton Center for Arts & Technology.

That student is 17-year-old Bermet Moore, whose cerebral palsy made it difficult for her to write numbers in math class.

That’s when Shawn Burns’ Mechatronics students were enlisted to help, and an idea came from an unusual source.

“The Price is Right!” Burns says. “The large wheel that they roll with the prize money on it got us to thinking.”

Those ideas turned into sketches and blueprints where a number of students pitched in to help, each of which fulfilling a specific role.

“The basic design was something that she could use to do math problems on without having to type on a computer, because she didn’t have fine motor control,” notes John Gagnon, a sophomore at Cave Spring.

“Mr. Burns came to me during class and said ‘alright I need you to make a bracket to hold these number wheels,’” adds Tanner Montgomery, a William Byrd sophomore. Classmate Aiden Moore also was tasked with designing the number wheel brackets.

“There’s a wooden dial in the middle of the project, so I actually got on the lathe and filed and sanded it down, then cut them all to length so they could rotate individually,” explains Nathanial Semones, a Hidden Valley high school senior.

Altogether, it took the class about a week and a half to fully design and make the number wheel.

“It really did help her be able to react as quickly as the others and it gave her more confidence,” recalls Whitt, after Bermet was given the number wheel.

“Overall, it wasn’t terribly hard but it was I’d say pretty important,” says Gagnon. “Knowing that she was able to participate in that class just like any other student should be able to, it made the work 100% worth it.”

The students plan to continue working with Bermet, designing items that will aid her in the education process.

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