PLTW capstone projects launch opportunities for adaptive phys. ed.
Six contraptions built by Edina High School students have transformed adaptive physical education at South View into an inclusive opportunity to play games and sports. The creations could all be described as a type of catapult and were designed by 20 Edina High School (EHS) students in their capstone engineering and design class, taught by Tim Berndt.
A conversation between Berndt and Lori Volding, developmental adapted phys. ed. teacher at South View, was the beginning. Volding had seen a similar apparatus at a conference and mentioned to Berndt that it would be great to have one. Berndt knew it would be great for his class, one of the Project Lead the Way offerings at EHS. The students researched the needs of the adaptive phys. ed. students, designed and built the catapults to help students shoot baskets, play ladder golf, throw Velcro balls at targets, play badminton and other gym games. It is a melding of authentic learning and service learning, and a demonstration of unity across ability levels.
Long tubes, duct tape, and ropes were constructed into wooden-based apparatus that operated with the tug of a string or push of a button so that students with limited physical mobility could take part in the action. “My students spent a lot of time researching and thinking about the needs of the adaptive class students, some of whom may only have mobility in their wrist,” Berndt said. “They creatively found ways for the students to activate the catapults. This was a real-life engineering experience for them.”
When Volding’s DAPE students arrived in the South View city gym for class, they found that Berndt and his students had lined up the contraptions in a row with all of the accompanying nets, targets and stacked plastic bottles. The EHS students provided hands-on guidance to the middle schoolers on how to operate each apparatus, and also were enthusiastic cheerleaders when students succeeded in their efforts…and even when they didn’t.
The contraptions are now part of the DAPE phy ed equipment collection, along with instruction manuals and demonstration videos also prepared by the EHS students to ensure class periods of fun for everyone.