For a group of engineering students at Bensalem High School, their latest project started with a snowstorm and a guest speaker from Villanova University. Dr. Christa Bialka specializes in special education and disability
“We were on a two-hour delay for a snow day of course when Christa was coming to talk to us,” said Dan Lubacz, Engineering Teacher. She asked the class “How does a blind person go sledding?”
The six students created several prototypes for their sled for the blind and even Skyped with a blind student to get feedback.
It led them to modify an earlier design, which included noise-canceling headphones.
“He told us that their ears are really important for them. Since they can’t see they really use them,” said junior Jakub Hajduk. “We switched it to the vibrations in the handles.”
The students will install sensors on the front of the sled, so when the sled approaches an obstacle, these handles will vibrate. The handles also control the brakes, so the user can stop of steer the sled.
The students will also label parts of the sled in Braille, and they will create them using a 3D printer.
Their teacher said the project might continue into the next school year, and he hopes someday they will get to see it in action.
“If it’s not for our high school students or our collegiate students thinking big and trying to do something like this for somebody, who else is going to do it?” he said.