In STEM II we spend the entire class completing an Assistive Technology (AT) project in groups. During the project we develop a piece of Assistive Technology for a client who has physical disabilities whom we regularly meet with, presenting our work at an end-of-year STEM II Fair and if successful, giving our device to the client. The work which we complete as part of the project includes meeting with the client, completing background research, conducting design reviews and presenting our initial ideas for designs, developing the device, and finally presenting it. This year we also used a company-based model for our groups where there was a CEO, CIO, CTO, and CMO in each group, with each person focusing on their respective role’s job. My group, Team StrikeThrough, included Rajat Baldawa (CEO), Vinayak Rao (CIO), Isaiah Bateman (CMO), and I (CTO). We decided to develop an assistive bowling ramp for individuals with CP who as a result don’t have the arm strength or control needed to bowl. We worked with 7 Hills Worcester, who had previously used a similar device for students in an indoor classroom setting but which had recently broke.
People in a wheelchair who lack the needed arm strength are unable to bowl independently in a way that allows for proper speed, accuracy, and control.
The goal of this project is to create a bowling launcher that allows someone in a wheelchair or with a lack of arm control to bowl independently with some degree of control over the velocity of the ball in an indoor setting.
A mobile, adjustable bowling ramp that can be stored and which allows for some degree of user control.
Our initial plan was to design a ramp which allows users to launch a bowling ball with some degree of user control without using arm strength. To do so, we initially envisioned a wooden ramp with a spring inside a piston. When a button was pressed, a motor attached to the piston would retract and then extend, causing the spring to launch the ball down the ramp. By controlling the amount that the motor would spin and the piston would be compressed using two more buttons, the user would be able to control the initial launch speed of the ball. Upon building the product, we decided to switch to PVC pipes for the ramp chassis due to their low cost and ease to build with. After developing the electronics systems using an Arduino as a controller and 3D printing the piston, we realized that the 5V motor which we were using would not be able to pull back the spring. Because of this, we then decided to instead use a 12V linear actuator (a device which when supplied with an electrical current extends and retracts a rod) to physically push the ball, removing the need for the motor, piston, and spring. Due to the increased complexity of a linear actuator compared to a motor, we were initially unable to use the 3-button system to control launching speed, instead opting for a single button which launches the ball at the actuator’s maximum speed.