Hands-on activities are an essential part of learning at Martin Kellogg Middle School’s Biomedical Sciences Academy in Newington, Connecticut, but the final project of the school year required the seventh and eighth graders to use their minds and their hearts.
“It’s been quite a process, but I think it’s going to be great,” said eighth grader Steven Blazuk.
The goal of the academy is to steer students toward futures in math and science. Blazuk said he wants to be a biomedical engineer when he grows up.
“It’s been a great experience being able to use wires and figuring out how things go together and work,” he said.
Friday, students took to the task of building a better future for children with special needs. The kiddie cars they built will be donated to toddlers with cerebral palsy and other mobility challenges for a national program called “Go Baby Go.”
“I feel like it’s a great chance for us to show off our skills and help kids in need,” Breone Lewis, who is also in eighth grade, said.
“This will give them a chance to go out in the world and play with other friends, play with their siblings and just have independence that they just haven’t experienced in the past,” their teacher, Ashley Klopfer, said.
Michelle Dischino is the driving force behind Central Connecticut State University’s CARE’s club, which has taken this project to classrooms across Connecticut and donated 135 cars to children with special needs.
“One of the things we need to do is move the accelerator function to a button and that button for some children might be placed in the middle of the steering wheel, for other children it might be placed on the side,” said Dischino, a professor in the university’s technology and engineering department.
She and other program leaders also hope students learn an important lesson about how to treat others with differences.
“We get them to understand the culture change that’s going through, to accept kids or young people with disabilities in their school and in their classrooms,” said James DeLaura, chair of CCSU’s Technology and Engineering Education department.
He said the earlier that lesson is learned, the more likely kids are to treat others with kindness and respect.
“It’s really important for them to learn this now and be able to carry it throughout their lives,” Klopfer added. “Having this experience will imprint on them forever and hopefully give them a good basis for the future.”
The students will get to see the smiles on those kids faces when they receive their cars June 1.
Learn more about Go Baby Go or how to donate a car here.