ON BOCES Music Teacher and RIT Partner to Bring New Opportunity to Students
Orleans/Niagara BOCES Music teacher, Molly King, has been working with students at the Niagara Falls Learning Center and is always looking for ways to heighten their experience in class. “I thought it would be great if someone could design them a robotic drum set because many of them have physical limitations that hinder their success in music class.” She explains that the goal of the instrument would be to function in a way that our students can control it even with limited mobility. “I know that many of the students, especially in Judi Gewand’s class, are very interested in music class, but because of their mobility they cannot participate the way I would like them to.”
Molly brought her idea to her sister, who is an engineer, to get her feedback. “I wanted her to make it for me and I asked her if there was any way we could cheaply make it and she suggested that we get the Electrical Engineering students at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) because their senior year they have to do a design and build a project. She had made one her senior year that was an adaptive treadmill for people with disabilities and she said this would be right up their alley. So I emailed RIT and they got back to me and said it was a great project for their students. The best part is that it will be free to us since it will be designed through their masters of design program. We will get this cool instrument we will be able to use for years to come and they get this experience.”
Miss King invited the RIT team of students working on the drum to attend one of her music classes. “I wanted them to see a live music class and assess the needs of the students.” Sofia Quinones is one of the RIT students working on the drum. “We have to take a class that is Senior Design and we filled out a survey what our preference is and what we are interested in. This project was one of our top preferences that we wanted to be assigned to and we are very excited about it.” Miss Quinones says she was especially drawn to it because she has a musical background. “I play piano and a little guitar. I also sing. Music was always big for me growing up, so I knew how influential music could be and how impactful. Giving these students a better opportunity to express themselves would be very rewarding and very important to all of us.”
Miss King’s supervisor Brenda Good says, “Molly King has been a blessing for us at the Niagara Falls Learning Center. She has adapted as much as she can for the kids like using the Smartboard and she is trying to get the kids interacting as much as possible since they are multiply disabled. She has piloted the whole thing with working with the RIT students and she is just phenomenal.”
Miss King and the team of RIT students are hoping to have the drum ready and delivered at the beginning of the next school year. “I am very grateful to everyone who is a part of this project,” say Miss King. “ I can’t wait to see what they come up with.” Miss King would also like to thank WKBW who will be doing a two part story on this process and what it will mean to her students.