CONGRATULATIONS to Helene Berke our fabulous 7/8 STEM teacher. At the CAST Conference (Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching) in November, Helene was awarded the Innovations Award and a $5,000 grant by STAT (Science Teachers Association of Texas). She was one of four teachers in the state of Texas to receive this honor.
Late last year, our Middle School students had an opportunity to speak with Brian Aft, a paraplegic veteran, about innovations that make his life easier. He spoke about his vehicle and how having the ability to drive once again gave him freedom to be independent. Brian shared that one of the things he missed most was being able to play golf - but he had the opportunity to play recently by way of a $23,000 wheelchair that he borrowed for a day. The chair was able to raise Brian to a standing position, giving him the angle he needed to swing the club. When students asked him why only a day -- Brian explained that due to the expensive nature of the wheelchair there were only 10 of them in the state of Texas.
That is when the students sparked a common goal -- wanting to create a more cost efficient wheelchair that would raise Brian from a sitting position to a standing position. They devised a plan using hydraulics. Unfortunately, that was as far as they were able to go with the Science department allocated funds.
This grant is a true win for Levine Academy and these driven students. This project will drive a world of discovery -- whatever obstacles they face they will pursue a solution rather than giving up.
We are incredibly proud of the sensitivity these students show toward this cause and the perseverance of the group working as a team. We look forward to reporting the status of this latest STEM challenge.