Engaging Easley

Developers:  Monique Goldsmith & Prakash Sundar

Advisors: Deanna St. John

Supervising Professor:  Kevin Caves

In today’s world with all the current technology device are often used as teaching aids. Our clients are students in a multi-handicap classroom who need an academic device that is tailored to their disability needs. We sought out to create a device that would help keep the students engaged while learning state level curriculum, could be used in a number of different positions, could be used independently, and met their visual impairment requirements. Upon testing and validating the device the teacher informed us that our device would suit all her required needs. Observing the children while using the device showed them to be engaged and able to operate independently.

Our clients are students from grades first through fifth in a multi-handicap classroom. A multi-handicap classroom means that each student has at least two disabilities. The students have a variety of different conditions. Some students have traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI is caused by a heavy blow to the head that disrupts normal brain function and can lead to limited function of the arms and legs as well as difficulty concentrating and remembering things [1]. Other students have sustained brain hemorrhages which can lead to cognitive and visual impairments [2]. While the students don’t all have the same conditions they do have a lot of the same disabilities as a result of the conditions described above. Every student has a visual and cognitive impairment. The visual impairment as explained by their teacher means that the students can only see highly contrasting colors and large images. Every student also has limited muscle tone meaning they have little control over their arm and leg motions
Due to their disabilities the teachers are often challenged to find materials which engage and encourage the students to learn state level curriculum on their own. For one period of the day the students spend time on the floor using different devices on their own that are often switch operated to facilitate independent use. The teachers therefore need a stimulating and engaging academic device that can be used during this floor time. Bright lights and contrasting colors along with sound help to keep the students engaged. There are currently toys that have those characteristics and that are able to be used independently on the floor such as the VTech light up touch tablet [3]. However, the problem with the Vtech toy is that it is geared more toward toddlers and therefore does not help the students learn information at the level of the current state standards for students with disabilities.

Project Goals
The goal of this project is to create an adjustable and visually stimulating academic device that the students can operate by themselves. A switch will be used in order to facilitate independent use. High contrast images and lights will be used to make the

device visually stimulating. The curriculum will be written and recorded to meet the current state standards for children with disabilities.

Design and Development

The device that we have designed is a rectangular box with four circular panels in the front with an external switch connected to it for the students to hit. When the students press the switch, the first panel lights up and the corresponding recording plays through a speaker attached to the back. When the students hit the switch again, the first panel light turns off and the second panel lights up and plays its corresponding recording. The pattern continues until the fourth panel lights up and then all the lights turns off. The device is connected to a wall mount and French cleat so that the teachers can move the device right in front of them and angle it downward if they are lying on the floor. Because most of the students do not have the motor capabilities to reach out and press the switch, a head switch will be connected to the device for them so that when they press the head switch it will be the same thing as if pressing a regular switch. Our device works through the use of four main components.
Component 1: Electrical

The electrical component of our device contains an Arduino Uno, a DF MP3 player, and 4 LED panels with reflective cones. The student’s personal switch can be connected to the Arduino Uno. Once the switch is it hit the Arduino code triggers an LED panel and reflective cone to light up and illuminate an image (Figure 1). Simultaneously curriculum that was recorded on an SD card and placed in the DF MP3 player is played. This cycle continues on each time the switch is hit.
Component 2: Casing
The casing is a 1ft by 1ft by 7 in. box made out of wood (Figure 2). One of the sides of the wood is latched to the other in order to provide access to the inside. The inside of the box holds all of the described above electrical components. The front of the box has four circular holes each with a diameter of 5 inches (Figure 3). The top and bottom of the front of the casing are lined with magnetic tape in order to attach a plexiglas cover that holds four images (Figure 2). The bottom of the casing has a port to plug in a switch. The back of the casing has a speaker attached with velcro as well as a port to plug the speaker into

(Figure 4). The back of the casing also has 4 holes with the ability to screw in the third component, the wall mount.
Component 3: Wall Mount/Wall Attachment
The wall mount is made out of steel for stability and attaches to the back of the casing. The wall mount allows the casing to move outward from the wall and also gives the casing the ability to be angled downward and tilt in different directions (Figure 4 ). The wall mount has a piece of wood attached to it that fits into a French cleat design (Figure 5). This allows the device to slide across the wall at different locations within the room as well as attach to another French cleat in another room.

Component 4: Curriculum

The curriculum is made up of songs that meet the state standards for North Carolina elementary school students with disabilities. The main focus of the curriculum is science and health and wellness. The curriculum consisted of four songs about the heart, lungs, brain, and stomach. The songs explain the main functions of each organ. With each song there is also a corresponding high contrast kid friendly image of the organ

The four components work together to meet the needs of the students. The LED lights and the high contrast images put in the casing help the students stay visually
engaged and meet their visual impairment needs. The curriculum recorded and stored on the DF MP3 player helps the students meet the current educational state standards for students with disabilities. The wall mount allows the students to be able to use the device while lying down in a number of different positions. The incorporation of the switch in the electrical component allows the students to perform the task independently. All of these components combined create a device which fulfils the original need for an engaging academic device that can be used independently on the floor.

The device was evaluated to assess its mobility, ease of operation, how well it meets the visual impairment guidelines, and how well the curriculum meets the current state standards. The device was evaluated against existing performance criteria through verification tests performed by the designers and validation tests performed by the client. The device was weighed to make sure it was lightweight and mobile. Wall mount angles were measured in order to verify that the device was able to move to the appropriate floor positioning’s. Human body curriculum was chosen and verified against current state standards. Finally, light luminosity was calculated to verify that the device met the visual impairment needs. Validation was performed through observation of the students using the device along with surveying of the teacher. Observation of the students using the device revealed they were able to easily operate it by themselves and seemed engaged by the songs and lights. Survey results revealed that the teacher strongly agrees that the device meets her need and was overall satisfied with the components of the device.

The components of our device all came together to meet our original project goal statement. The device is easily adjustable due to the fact that it weighs only 5lbs and is attached to a wall mount and French cleat that allows the device to tilt and slide. The device is visually stimulating due to its high contrast images and use of lights. The device works to engage and teach the students the appropriate curriculum through the use of educational songs that were verified and validated by the teacher. Finally the students can use the device independently due to the fact that any classroom switch can be plugged into the device. The teacher thought the students would really enjoy the songs and believed the device met all her needs. With all the components working together the device is able to help the students learn and stay focused on appropriate level curriculum.

1. Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion. (2017, June 14). Retrieved October 24, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/outcomes.html
2. M. (n.d.). Brain haemorrhage. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/types-of-brain-injury/brain-haemorrhage/
3. https://www.vtechkids.com/product/detail/15467/Light_Up_Baby_Touch_Tablet___Pink

We would like to thank Duke University BME Department, Kevin Caves, Paul Thompson, and the students, teacher, and staff we worked with to create the device

Contact Information
Monique Goldsmith
Email: monique.goldsmith@duke.edu
Address: 10629 Montrose Bay Ave Boynton Beach Fl 33473

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