Student Work | Mass STEM Hub

Middle School | Gateway DM | Activity: STEM Week Challenge | Design Thinking Award

Check out the student work submitted for real-world industry feedback! Learn more about submitting student work to receive real-world feedback here!

Grade:  Middle School

PLTW Course: Gateway DM

Submission type: STEM Week Challenge

Project overview:  In this design challenge middle, school students explore the potential of the technology-human relationship to design an adaptation to an everyday task for persons with paralysis. Students apply what they learn about the nervous system and the engineering design process to develop and evaluate their designs. Students document their progress, insights, and learning in a Design Brief as they progress through the process, and build and test their prototypes to test the effectiveness of their designs.  This group of students designed a device that  helps a person who uses a wheelchair or otherwise has limited mobility to access items in a refrigerator.

Selected student submission materials:

Link to full project: click here

Select Judge Feedback: 

“Hi team! Thank you so much for putting in so much effort into your project! I’m Julie and I work at a biotech called CRISPR Therapeutics where I lead teams developing treatments for cancer and sickle cell disease. 

Your team did a great job of iterating and continuously improving your design as evidenced by the different materials you tried for your handle. This reminds me of at my job when we are testing a current drug and as we learn about how it does, we plan for how to improve it in a next generation. 

Your team also did a great job communicating clearly as evidenced by the clarity of your presentation that helped orient a reviewer who didn’t have the same context as your teacher. I learned about this same thing at work because I often have to talk to people from other departments who might not know the same information about a project that I do. 

I wonder if your team thought about how items would get “loaded” into the scoop. Right now it seems like the user would have to slide the scoop under something (you did a great job adding the foam lining!) but I wonder how hard that would be with something heavy like milk. 

I think your team are all budding engineers – you’ve learned excellent design thinking and were so focused on creating user friendly devices. STEM careers are always about how to better serve people and you are all naturals at that. Keep it up!”

-Executive Director, Program Leader for Hemoglobinopathies & Immune-Oncology, CRISPR Therapeutics


“I work at The Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, MA, where I am a scientist and the Director of Education. In my research my lab studies tooth formation and how to repair tooth defects from disease or tooth decay.

For your project you did a great job of addressing specific pain points and prioritizing the user in design. For your prototype CEC Grabber (love the name!) you did a great job with your Design Brief including your photos and videos of the design in action..

I also try to think about functional aspects of design when I try to design treatments for tooth defects – practicality is critical! 

This project has the potential to impact disabled people’s lives and you did a great job. I hope you consider continuing on the STEM career/education path – you’d make great contributions and the field will be lucky to have your intellectual input!”

-Director for Education, The Forsyth Institute


Industry Award:  Design Thinking

School: Medway Middle School

Teachers: Cerissa Gatewood and Erin Albertian

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