Student robotics teams from across Maryland will gather at the USRA STEMaction Center in Columbia Saturday, May 7 to turn toy cars into vehicles for young children with disabilities.
Caleb Dreisman, 17, is the main organizer of the event and a member of local robotics team Green Machine - Reloaded.
He and his team were looking for a community service opportunity and found a video about Go Baby Go, a program started at the University of Delaware to "provid
e mobility to kids who have trouble moving on their own," according to the program's website.
This is done by modifying off-the-shelf toy race cars to make them accessible for kids with disabilities who are younger than 3, Dreisman explained, adding that the toy cars are much more affordable than wheelchairs.
Modifications can include adding a three-point harness, he said, and turning the steering wheel into a large button that makes the car go, for students who might not be able to push down a foot pedal.
"We saw the video and we were like, this is a great idea, we'd like to bring this to our community," said Dreisman, who is homeschooled. "We could make the cars ourselves, and we could also bring people together to make the cars."
The team raised enough funds to convert eight toy cars, including a few Barbie cars and models that look like the character Lightning McQueen from the Pixar movie "Cars."
Once the workshop concludes this Saturday, Easter Seals will distribute the cars to local students with disabilities.
Saturday's workshop is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to students over 13 who are involved in FIRST robotics teams, as well as their mentors. For more information, go to /greenmachinereloaded.weebly.com/go-baby-go.html.