STEM II is a course taught by Dr. Crowthers in D term. In this course, we are tasked with designing assistive technologies in groups for individuals with disabilities. Assistive technology consists of any technology that is designed to assist someone who has a disability. The objective of the course is to give back to the community and teach us how to complete a group engineering project. For our project, we assisted the Seven Hills Foundation in Worcester. The Seven Hills Foundation in Worcester has held a bowling activity for its members with cerebral palsy over the last decade. The activity has been popular and has provided an entertaining opportunity for the bowlers to socialize and develop motor skills. Recently, the custom bowling ramp that was used by the organization to allow their members to bowl with a limited range of motion broke down.
People with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, struggle to complete the full range of motion required to bowl. Machine-based bowling systems have not been widely implemented to make bowling accessible to individuals with physical disabilities.
Members at the Seven Hills Foundation in Worcester with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy consists of all movement disabilities that affect the balance and posture of a person. Coordination is necessary to complete the bowling motion, which tasks bowlers to rotate a heavy object to gain velocity and control its trajectory.
The objective of this project is to implement an adaptive bowling device to make bowling accessible to people with physical disabilities.
We designed and built a switch-activated PVC bowling ramp that uses a linear actuator to push the bowling ball. A linear device is simply an electronic device that is able to produce linear motion.
Over the course of D term, our group worked to design our adaptive bowling ramp. We initially thought we could use a spring-based design to launch the bowling ball, yet after testing out several devices such as a servo-motor to pull the spring back, we realized that obtaining the amount of power required to pull back the spring would be impractical. Instead, we pivoted and focused on designing a linear actuator system using Arduinos. The ramp itself was constructed out of PVC due to its light weight and versatility.
The entire design process was tedious, but highly rewarding. As we gained more knowledge in electrical wiring and construction, we were able to create a final product that met the criteria for our MVP.