Students on local robotics team develop 'passable path' for people who use wheelchairs

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MARYVILLE, Ill. – The robotics team at St. John Neumann Catholic School in Maryville, Illinois is focused on an accessible solution for wheelchair-bound individuals.

“It worked out really well for our first time,” said Tristan Luehmann, St. John Neumann Catholic School robotics team member. “We used an American Girl doll wheelchair as our prototype. We used Popsicle sticks and we tried a sushi mat.”

Fellow robotics team member Sophia Windorff calls it “the passable path.” Made from painted yardsticks, this path is designed to help wheelchairs get over uneven terrain or gravel or sand.

According to Karen Conness, the robotics team coach, the fourth through eighth-grade students identified a problem in their community.

“They went on a scavenger hunt and we went around and identified a potential problem,” she said. “And they found in their park they had a great paved path to walk on but to get to the benches, you had to go through grass. And given that one of their teammates uses a wheelchair, they knew that would be difficult for her.”

Using yardsticks and ribbon tacked together, the portable path provides traction in terrain that’s unfriendly to a wheelchair.

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