Barstow Student Engineers Lead Life-Changing Community Build
The Barstow Robotics Team hosted more than 200 people at its annual GoBabyGo Community Build on Saturday, Nov. 17. Each year, Barstow partners with Variety KC to give children with disabilities the gift of mobility — just in time for the holidays.
Barstow robotics students led eight FIRST Robotics teams and a group from Rockhurst University as they used mechanical and electrical engineering skills to modify ride-on toy cars into motorized wheelchairs for 20 children. The result of the teams’ hard work over many months is a beautiful moment when children get behind the wheels of their news cars and drive forward with new freedom and independence.
This year’s event had an innovative new element — the first ever FIRST Robotics-GoBabyGo Hackathon. Children who needed cars with heavier modifications were matched with four robotics teams to customize vehicles to their specific needs over six weeks. On Saturday, professionals from Burns & McDonnell and five physical therapists judged the Hackathon vehicles based on how well the teams used technology, safety and user-based design to meet the needs of their client.
Barstow’s Hackathon built a Hackathon car for Lexi – a young girl with cerebral palsy whose therapy goals including learning cause and effect using buttons. Student engineers used adaptive technology to create a button-only steering wheel. Customized buttons featured Lexi’s four favorite songs. Barstow’s team earned the most points for its innovative design — and Lexi loved it.
Barstow Robotics captains Aiden Jacobs, Aasim Hawa, and George Whitehill spent long hours “hacking” the design and then using technical writing skills to create a how-to manual for a customized Jeep.
“I love seeing the students’ light bulbs go on as they see how their STEAM skills can change lives and make a positive impact on our community,” Robotics Coach Gavin Wood said.
With Saturday’s event, Barstow students have now built or directly facilitated over 50 GoBabyGo cars. The Barstow signature program is recognized as a global leader in the GoBabyGo movement. Students have written three manuals for adapting various car models, including www.gbgconnect.com, an online forum created by our students that connect families, GoBabyGo chapters and robotics teams around the world.