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Featured Educators: Chelsea Rutledge and Jill Berrner on Accessibility

May 17, 2019

We love the innovative ways that educators (in both formal and informal learning spaces) introduce learners to the concept of physical computing with Makey Makey and coding languages like: Scratch, Processing, and Python. Each month, we will feature an educator and a unique project they've worked on recently. To read more educator posts, simply sign up for our newsletter to get the news first!

Meet this month's featured educator: Chelsea Rutledge 

Chelsea Rutledge is an Algebra 1 and Geometry teacher at Calera Highschool a 6A school that is quickly growing in the Shelby County School District! We noticed Chelsea's students testing out assistive devices they made on Twitter and we just had to know more!



We just love the concept of kids creating assistive technology for other students What inspired you?

While sitting in STEM training, the idea popped into my head. I could not stop thinking about it and I knew that I had to try. I have always held a special place in my heart for special needs kids, and I really wanted to do something for them.

What was the challenge or instructions you presented to the students?

I told my students that I wanted us to make technology devices for the kids.  We started with an interview. They had to meet their kid and get to know them before they started building.  Based on that knowledge, they created (from scratch) something that was designed specifically for their kid. I didn’t tell them what they could/couldn’t do, I told them to come up with an idea and we would go with it.

Can you share some of your favorites that the students made?

    • One group made a huge floor piano that was played with their feet and it was brilliant.
    • We made a Whack-a-Mole game.
    • There were several different game controllers and each one was made differently and uniquely for their student.  
    • We also had a dance revolution pad that was a big hit.
    • You can view more of there work here
What was surprising about the process?
    • My students were particularly challenged with how to ground their student. We had a prototype day and the students came to our class and tried the devices.
    • Many groups had to rethink their grounding and try something different.  
    • One group ended up grounding through human contact, while another group made a foot pedal so that hands were free. One group made an adjustable bracelet to ground their student.

 What is your advice for others who want to try this with their students?

    • I would recommend allowing the students to work in design teams of no more than 3 kids.  
    • I would also allow them to come up their own idea and just guide them through the process, don’t dictate what they can and can’t do. Allow them to truly be inventors. I did not set very many rules or guidelines and the kids really owned what they were doing.

 Do you have any pics or videos you’d want to share?

    • The video below is really the best. We had the marketing students at our school work on videos and pictures. Check out their video below and this post!

Meet this month's featured educator: Jill Berner and #VestBuddy

The same week we saw Mrs. Rutledge's amazing class projects, we also learned about the #vestbuddy!

Jill Berrner is a 5th grade teacher at Olinda Elementary School in the Brea Olinda Unified School District. Her students created #vestbuddy to help another student communicate!

These students created wearable technology for a peer when he can't be near his communication tablet. How cool is this? We hope these inventors keep changing the world with their great and kind ideas! 


Check out these great videos about #vestbuddy to hear from the kids about their creation! These students are truly amazing! It is great to see empathy and design thinking shine in this project. 


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