Next week the final 48-hour invention competition of the year sets up at The Kansas School for The Blind. It will be a one-of-a-kind event, with 18 incredible students from Kansas and Missouri competing.
Six teams of visually-impaired and legally blind students will participate in the 2-day challenge and Team Captains will hail from innovative companies and non profit organizations including Children’s Mercy, Trane, Wet & Forget, KC Eye Clinic, Operation Breakthrough, the DeBruce Foundation and the KC All Stars. They will lead the teams to create a prototype for the challenge theme, “Chickens in the Kitchen.” The winning team will advance to our national competition as part of Season 6 in 2023.
This past spring, Make48 visited with KSSB about holding a challenge at their makerspace. Tom Gray, David Marshall and KSSB determined that their organizations’ respective goals and missions aligned, particularly in the areas of accessibility, diversity, and inclusion. Superintendent Jon Harding and the board agreed that KSSB could host the 48 hour competition, and with Make48’s help the event will celebrate the potential and capabilities of students who are blind or have low vision across Kansas and Missouri.
The Kansas School for The Blind is a specialized public school for students 3-21 years of age who are visually impaired. The 150+ year old institution meets the needs of students who are blind/visually impaired in Kansas. KSSB acts as a “network of services” that include an outreach team to serve students across the state, as well as a 10-acre campus in downtown Kansas City, KS, offering intensive, short-term services. KSSB is a nurturing environment where close to 50 students receive statewide resources on campus from August to May.
Rich Yamanoto will be participating in the event. The 2021 graduate said this about KSSB, “The unique thing about our program is that it is tailored to everybody based on their individual needs.” [YouTube] Jon Harding believes there will be a positive impact for their organization, the businesses who participate, and for the students and families. “For our local community (greater Kansas City area), we believe that this event can provide a greater understanding of disability (especially blindness and low vision), an appreciation of how to welcome and provide access to those with disabilities, and to highlight how individuals with disability can contribute to the bottom line of a business. We applaud those businesses who are supporting this unique Make48 event and demonstrating their commitment to inclusivity and diversity.”
The one-of-a-kind experience will encourage students to use accessible design-thinking alongside analytical & communication skills to compete. In 48-hours, teams will brainstorm and build a prototype inside the KSSB Makerspace. The makerspace has a wide range of activities available for students to hone their skills. Equipment at the makerspace is fully accessible and that includes 3D printers, embroidery, Circuit machines, heat press, and more. Make48’s proto-to-go trailer, tools and Tool Techs will also be available throughout the weekend. Teams will have access to technicians from Onshape, Airgas, MatterHackers, ShopBot Tools, and Ultimaker. Past techs Stan Fernald, Travis Putnam and Whitney Manney will be onsite with the KSSB staff who will assist the teams during the event.
Known as the place where all students can dream, design and create, next week we watch as collaboration and bright ideas take flight at KSSB. “Individuals with a visual impairment can do anything their sighted peers do,” Jon Harding said. “With a few accommodations, and the change-maker mentality projects like Make48, anything is possible.” Learn more about this inspiring event at https://www.make48.com/ks-school-for-the-blind