Hands-on Activity Able Sports:
Invent New Games and Sports

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Quick Look

Grade Level: 8 (6-8)

Time Required: 45 minutes

Expendable Cost/Group: US $0.00

Group Size: 4

Activity Dependency: None

Subject Areas: Problem Solving, Science and Technology

NGSS Performance Expectations:

NGSS Three Dimensional Triangle
MS-ETS1-1

Summary

Students dive deeper into their understanding of the engineering design process (EDP) while they learn about designing for inclusivity. This activity focuses on getting students to think about disabilities and how they can make some aspects of life more difficult. The students are presented with an engineering challenge to pick a disability and design a new kind of sport for it. They identify suitable game rules, materials, equipment and team roles to equitably and fairly meet the needs of their users.
This engineering curriculum aligns to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

A woman with a physical disability sitting in a wheelchair holding a tennis raquet and tennis ball.
Students design sports for individuals with disabilities
copyright
Copyright © http://womenshealth.gov/fitness-nutrition/how-to-be-active-for-health/physical-active-women-with-disabilities.html

Engineering Connection

The engineering design process is a widely accepted way of arriving at desirable solutions to identified problems. This activity guides students through some of the engineering design process steps as they apply basic engineering concepts to real-world design problems. Biomedical and mechanical engineers design and test various types of prosthetics to better the lives of people with physical disabilities.

This activity focuses on getting students to design a sport for people with a particular disability. Through the development of a new sport, students are exposed to design thinking and explore different disabilities and how they can make some aspects of life more difficult. The students are asked to pick a disability and design a new kind of sport for it while taking into account specified criteria and constraints.

Learning Objectives

After this activity, students should be able to:

  • Identify and describe the steps of the engineering design process.
  • Describe key problems with four types of disabilities and the current solutions available.
  • Explain the basic knowledge of limited capabilities of people with certain disabilities and their compensating strengths.
  • Describe how to use the engineering design process to develop solutions to problems.
  • Explain the reasons for their selected designs and material choices.

Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

NGSS Performance Expectation

MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (Grades 6 - 8)

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This activity focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Define a design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process or system and includes multiple criteria and constraints, including scientific knowledge that may limit possible solutions.

Alignment agreement:

The more precisely a design task's criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other relevant knowledge that is likely to limit possible solutions.

Alignment agreement:

All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment.

Alignment agreement:

The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions.

Alignment agreement:

  • New products and systems can be developed to solve problems or to help do things that could not be done without the help of technology. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • The development of technology is a human activity and is the result of individual and collective needs and the ability to be creative. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Technology is closely linked to creativity, which has resulted in innovation. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • The use of technology affects humans in various ways, including their safety, comfort, choices, and attitudes about technology's development and use. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Social and cultural priorities and values are reflected in technological devices. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Meeting societal expectations is the driving force behind the acceptance and use of products and systems. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Apply a design process to solve problems in and beyond the laboratory-classroom. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Specify criteria and constraints for the design. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Make a product or system and document the solution. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • The use of symbols, measurements, and drawings promotes a clear communication by providing a common language to express ideas. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Communicate a design solution to an intended user, including design features and limitations of the solution. (Grade 6) More Details

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  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution. Include potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (Grade 6) More Details

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  • Explain examples of adaptive or assistive devices, e.g., prosthetic devices, wheelchairs, eyeglasses, grab bars, hearing aids, lifts, braces. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Construct a prototype of a solution to a given design problem. (Grade 7) More Details

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Materials List

Worksheets and Attachments

Visit [www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/able_sue] to print or download.

Introduction/Motivation

Have you ever thought of how you would play tennis if you could not walk? Or how you would play baseball if you could not see? Probably not! When we do not have a certain disability, the inability to participate in different sports because of physical limitations can be overlooked. 

Some people have difficulty using their legs, arms, fingers, or experience a loss of one or more of their senses due to accidents, birth defects and various physical problems. Engineers work to design and test assistive devices to help people who experience disabilities or physical challenges in their lives to improve their overall quality of life. 

Luckily you have been hired by AbleSports, a small start-up company that manufactures game/sports-related assistive technology. You are an engineer in the new department that has been formed to "invent" new, active sports to be geared specifically toward individuals with disabilities. Your team of engineers has been chosen to lead development on one of these new sports using the engineering design process to design and create with the end user in mind. 

Procedure

Background

People have designed and developed devices to help others with disabilities throughout history. These devices have become a benefit to us all. For example, the first typewriter was built in 1808 by Pellegrino Turri with the purpose to help a blind friend write more legibly, and in 1920, Harvey Fletcher developed the first hearing aids, which eventually led to today's public address systems.

Engineers use the engineering design process to create assistive devices like the wheelchair or eyeglasses to help people with a wide variety of disabilities maintain a normal life. What about sports? Staying active is important to help you strengthen your heart, muscles, and bones and improve your mental health. Everyone - regardless of ability - can participate and excel in all different activities. Adaptive sports - or parasports - are sports that have been modified to allow people with disabilities to play. While adaptive sports date back to the 19th century, they saw a boom in popularity after World War II as a form of rehabilitation for injured veterans.  

As a new hire for Able Sports, you are tasked with developing a new sport using part of the engineering design process (EDP). 

Before the Activity

  • Gather some materials (including adhesives and/or fasteners) that you want to offer students to use for their designs. Also consider requesting that students bring in some materials from home. These might include fabric, various plastics and woods, metal, cardboard, etc.
  • Make copies of the handouts.

With the Students

Market research surveys show that the general public associates certain criteria with sports, and that in order for new sports to be potentially accepted by the populous, the game must incorporate the following:

  • Rules for play, including: Object of the game (for example, in football, the object is to get the most points; in chess the object is to put your opponent in check-mate), scoring, beginning and ending the game
  • A well-defined playing space
  • Scoring: How is a score made? How much is a score worth?
  • An object that is passed around within the playing space

Details of disability-specific criteria for your design are listed on a separate sheet.

Part 1: Ask to Identify the Needs and Constraints (EDP Step 1)

  1. Divide the class into groups of 4 students each. 
  2. Have the group select one of the four scenarios to design a new sport for. 
  3. Instruct each group to discuss the listed criteria and constraints for their chosen scenario. 

Part 2: Research the Problem (EDP Step 2)

  1. Have groups conduct research to see what kind of difficulties might be experienced by individuals with the specific disability they chose and what games (if any) exist for people with that disability. 

Part 3: Imagine Possible Solutions & Select the Most Promising Solution (EDP Step 3 and 4)

  1. Encourage the students to be as creative as possible! There are no monetary restrictions. This new sport should not be an adaptation of a currently-played sport. Do not include fictional or not-fully-developed technology, such as time traveling devices or personal jet packs.
  2. Have each group sketch out several ideas for their new sport. 
  3. After they have brainstormed different ideas, encourage each group to select one of their ideas that best fits the criteria and constraints of their end user. 

Part 3: Create a Prototype (EDP Step 5)

  1. Give the students time to use the available materials to build out a physical prototype of their sport. They need to include the playing space, any equipment used in the game, and a list of the game rules and team description.

Part 4: Present

At the end of this class, each group must produce the following to present to the other groups:

  • Initial drawing of your playing space
  • Physical prototype of the new sport
  • Rules of the game
  • Description of the playing surface (its material and dimensions)
  • List of equipment required to play the game
  • Description of the teams

Vocabulary/Definitions

adaptive sports: Sports that have been modified to allow people with disabilities to play

assistive device: A device designed and constructed to assist people in carrying out tasks. Also called assistive technology devices.

engineering design process: The iterative process through which engineers develop solutions to meet an objective. The steps of the process include: identifying a problem, research, imagine possible solutions, plan by selecting the most promising solution, create a prototype, test and evaluate, and improve and redesign. Science, mathematics and engineering science concepts are applied throughout the process to optimize the solution.

universal design: The concept of designing buildings, products and technologies so that they are accessible to all people regardless of age, physical abilities or status. Universal design takes into account assistive technology considerations as well as aesthetic aspects of design.

Assessment

Pre-Activity Assessment

Think-Pair-Share: Ask student pairs to share what kinds of sports they think would be difficult for people with disabilities (such as those in a wheelchair, on crutches/cane, are blind or deaf). Also have students share what they know about how they, or someone they know, play sports with a disability.

Activity Embedded Assessment

Design Drawing Check-in: Examine students' drawings to ensure design criteria are met and that their proposed game is safe.

Post-Activity Assessment

Presentations: At the end of this class, each group must produce the following to present to the other groups:

  • Initial drawing of your playing space
  • Physical prototype of the new sport
  • Rules of the game
  • Description of the playing surface (its material and dimensions)
  • List of equipment required to play the game
  • Description of the teams

Reflection Questions: Have students spend time reflecting on and answering the questions listed below:

  • Why is it important to design for inclusivity?
  • Can you think of other examples where engineers equitably and fairly meet the needs of their users?

Troubleshooting Tips

A lot of students do not realize that people using crutches need them at all times to support themselves. Advise students choosing this disability that they cannot incorporate the crutches as a part of the sport (for example, use crutches like a tool to hit a ball, etc.).

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2005 Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Contributors

Bonniejean Boettcher, Project Manager, Project Lead The Way, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Supporting Program

K-12 Outreach Office, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Last modified: December 3, 2021

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