High school robotics teams and Marquette students develop over 50 adaptive toys

On Saturday, Nov. 12, The Opus College of Engineering hosted the first of two build days as part of its project to develop adaptive toys serving children with differing abilities in Milwaukee County. The project, “Inclusive Play: Toys for all,” is a collaboration among The Opus College of Engineering and its Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Engineering Center (OREC), Penfield Children’s Center and the Kohl’s Building Blocks Program. 

High school students from local FIRST Robotics teams joined Marquette undergraduate and graduate students to tackle the adaptations of three types of toys on Saturday. The day began with an overview of the project, hands-on training led by Marquette engineering students and then three hours of collaboration to make the necessary electrical adaptations. By the end of the afternoon, 54 toys were adapted and are now undergoing testing and review by OREC.  

The full build crew included high schoolers, FIRST Robotics professional mentors, undergraduate and graduate students from engineering and nursing, Opus College of Engineering faculty and staff, and therapists and representatives from both Penfield Children’s Center and Kohl’s. 

With guidance from speech language pathologists and therapists at Penfield Children’s Center, OREC is leading the technical effort to adapt toys to be accessible with a variety of therapy switches to increase the accessibility for a child to independently engage the toy and experience the reaction. The full initiative includes eight different toys, including a teddy bear, a bubble machine and a guitar that will be used at Penfield Children’s Center and the Speech and Hearing Clinic in Marquette’s College of Health Sciences. 

The program currently aims to adapt over 140 toys and is well on the way thanks to the efforts of the first build day. A second build day will be hosted with a similar group on Saturday, Dec. 3. The initial announcement for this collaboration and the build days is available on Marquette Today.

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