By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Assistive Technology (AT) Unit in Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) recently hosted The Game Changers, a national award-winning robotics team from Dove Science Academy Middle School in Oklahoma City.
VR is a division of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
The celebration at VR AT’s Shepherd Center lab honored the Game Changers’ for their first place win in Innovation Design in the First Lego League Challenge for grades 4 through 8.
“We are nominated for the Oklahoma Region Global Innovation Award, so we will be competing world-wide,” said Dove Academy student Nour Soulane.
The LEGO competition combines research, problem-solving, coding and engineering for teams that are challenged to build and program LEGO robots.
The Game Changers won in a category requiring a research project to identify and solve a relevant real-world problem. Their award-winning design focused on a robotic engineering solution to help people with disabilities exit wheelchairs.
The Game Changers and the VR AT team exchanged plaques and certificates at the celebration acknowledging the students’ achievement and VR AT’s support for the outstanding contest entry.
“We reviewed The Game Changers’ contest entry, sent back questions and encouraged them to keep going strong,” said VR Field Coordinator Terri Williams Murphy, who supervises the VR AT team. “These high achievers are exactly what we need in the fields of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology.”
Dove Academy presented plaques to Williams and assistive technology specialists Juliette Hulen and Frank Washington.
Vocational Rehabilitation Administrator Mark Kinnison recognized The Game Changers and their coaches with certificates signed by DRS Director Melinda Fruendt.
“We are very proud of you and encourage you to pursue careers in rehabilitation when you get out of school,” Kinnison said. “I have some business cards I want to hand out to you. When you get out of school, we want you to come back and work for DRS to help people with disabilities achieve greater independence and employability.”
Following the awards ceremony, the Game Changers participated in hands on demonstrations of adaptive equipment and devices that help jobseekers with disabilities achieve employment goals.
Dove Schools is a public charter school system that promotes science, mathematics, and educational technology in school environments.
DRS Vocational Rehabilitation Assistive Technology evaluations identify obstacles. AT specialists assist individuals with a disability in selecting assistive technology solutions.
For more information, visit dsaokc.org.