High School engineers help elementary student find his voice

Colonial School District  |  Posted on

Jamir chooses pictures to help him communicate his needs.

When teachers in the Life Skills class at Whitemarsh Elementary School (WES) needed some help to make a tool more accessible for one of their students, they turned to Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS).

The team needed a keyguard to help a student named Jamir isolate and select words on an iPad. PWHS seniors — Julia Evan, Isabella Schaffer and Kate Pezzano — took on the project as part of their Engineering class. They used the engineering design process, Inventor software and a 3D printer to create the bright red, three dimensional grid that fits tightly in the iPad case.

“We worked really well together,” said PWHS student Julia Evan. “We really enjoyed what the project is about, and we wanted to do the best for Jamir.”

With the keyguard in place, Jamir can easily isolate and select words to ask for things — like what he’d like to eat and drink or what music he’d like to hear.

“He likes rap music, so we have to find appropriate rap music to get him going when he wants to get motivated,” said WES Teacher Stephanie Brennan Malarski. “Before that, maybe we didn’t pick that kind of music for him, so it’s really giving him a chance to be who he really is instead of us deciding who he is.”

The device now travels with Jamir to and from school to help him communicate.