Observe a preschool classroom for just a few minutes and it’s clear that children learn through play. They are busy using their imaginations, dreaming big, furrowing their brows over a puzzle, and, yes, sometimes taking toys apart to see what’s inside. It’s not so different for much older students, like those in The Ohio State University’s Toy Adaptation Program (TAP).
TAP’s mission is twofold: to offer hands-on education to OSU’s engineering students while providing modified electronic toys to children who fall within a spectrum of different abilities. This combination of experiential learning while tackling a social need has been a win-win for both the students and young children.
“Many students comment that this experience embodies the reason they went into engineering,” says OSU Department of Engineering Education assistant professor Rachel Kajfez said. “They want to help people. Participating in a workshop, whether it be as a formal lab in a class or a volunteer opportunity, shows students they can make a difference.”