Three University of Connecticut biomedical engineering students are using their college education to assist a Tolland endeavor: the creation of a handicap-accessible playground at the Cross Farms Recreation Center.
Seniors Alyssa Smith, Christine Wakefield and Danielle Napoli are designing a sensory board for the children to interact with at the playground as part of their senior design project.
Smith, who plans on continuing to medical school to become a pediatrician, said that she gravitated towards the project because she wanted to work with children while fulfilling her requirements. Wakefield used to deliver papers in Tolland and knew relatives of Adam Mlodzinski.
The non-profit organization, . The group has been fundraising to build the playground.
Adam's Adventure board member Alison Knybel said that the collaboration with UConn is great for the group.
"Our goal is for the playground to be a destination for children with special needs," she said. The engineering students said that the interactive panel that will be installed is a unique design.
A Sneak Peek at the Sensory Panel
Members of the Adam's Adventure board listened to a presentation on the sensory panel at UConn on Monday.
The students laid out the basic design:
- The boards will be 12 feet long, 4 feet tall and 5 inches thick and positioned at angles to one another. The boards at the end will short enough so that children in wheelchairs can travel underneath to easily access either side of the panel. Both sides will be interactive.
- Memory game board: Similar to the game Simon, this board will consist of six buttons that light up as children touch them. When a child begins to interact with the buttons, it creates a sequence for them to repeat to improve memory skills. According to the presentation, children on the autism spectrum could benefit from the panel.
- Communication panel: Riddles will be written on this board in the standard alphabet and in Braille, but the answers will be written only in Braille.
- Music panel: Children can interact with chimes and a keyboard. The keyboard will be designed as an ascending scale. The board will teach the children to play a tune if they press one of three buttons on the side of the panel. The notes will light up as they are supposed to be played, also allowing deaf children to participate.
- Create-a-picture panel: Children will create pictures using a 15 by 15 grid of buttons that light up with three different colors.
- Sonar panel: LEDs will light up as children step in front of sensors on the board.
- Hand crank panel: Children can turn a crank and gradually light up meters on the board.
The UConn students will be putting the panels together and having them tested during the spring semester. The UConn School of Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Department have given them a combined budget of $3,000 to complete the panel.
For the latest on the playground's development, visit the Adam's Adventure Web site.