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Dayton Engineer

A rewarding ETHOS part-time immersion with United Rehabilitation Services

By Franco Patino, mechanical engineering technology and ETHOS Center

Franco Patino, a junior mechanical engineering technology major minoring in biomechanics at the University of Dayton School of Engineering, is completing a remote, part-time ETHOS immersion with United Rehabilitation Services during the spring 2021 semester.

URS offers a wide-array of programs with a variety of person-centered activities, focused on enhancing the physical, social and emotional needs of children, adults and seniors with developmental or acquired disabilities who live in the Greater Dayton Region. Patino creates and delivers Zoom lesson plans for STEM education for children and adults.

The ETHOS Center offers part-time immersions to University students who can still take classes while working with an ETHOS partner. They work with their community partner for 8-10 hours per week, receive a stipend and participate in weekly class meetings with other ETHOS immersion students. Go to the ETHOS website for more information and application.

Patino writes about his experience:

My job is to help URS teach children and adults with disabilities about the wonderful world of STEM. I have been doing this for two months, and I find it very rewarding as every time I create and present a new project for them, the kids, especially, get very excited to learn about something new. I have taught the kids about magnetism using a balloon and a grocery bag and have taught them about the water cycle using a jar, water and food coloring.

For each lesson, I want the students to be able to touch what they are learning, so my projects are simple but educational. For example, for the adult class, I used a marble roller coaster as my base to teach them about Newton's laws of motion. They build a marble roller coaster out of popsicle sticks with one loop that a marble can travel through. Using this as my foundation, I start my lesson off by explaining who Isaac Newton was and use pictures to explain each of Newton’s laws of motion.

In each lesson, I try to use real-world examples to get my point across, such as the roller coaster project. I explain our project and have the class brainstorm ideas on a roller coaster design. Afterwards, we share ideas, and the teachers of the class assist the students with a community idea that they would like to construct as a class. After they build their design and test it with a marble, I show them my design (pictured) and talk about how Newton’s laws are responsible for carrying the marble over the loop of the track.

This is just one of the ways that I like to teach students about STEM using hands-on projects that they can enjoy. So far, the feedback has been positive from students and teachers, and I have been enjoying every moment of it. I look forward to finding different ways to teach STEM subjects to the kids and adults at URS.

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