Students from the Beverly School for the Deaf Visit the Edgerton Center

Published in MIT News on March 23 by Victor Morales, Edgerton Center

At the Edgerton Center, students learn engineering principles through Lego kits.

Joyful voices echo down the halls of the fourth floor of MIT’s Building 4. Raicheal and Cori, two of the five visiting 3rd and 4th grade students, re-enter Room 4-402. One has a Lego car in her hands, the other a paper and pencil, and both wear bright smiles on their faces. The first model they built didn’t just go over the ramp in the hallway, a feat that few students’ cars master on the first attempt; it surmounted the incline and traveled meters down the hall, scoring the two young engineers a whopping 165 points from the distance test alone.

Beverly School students visit Edgerton Center“One of the best first cars,” remarks Amy Fitzgerald who teaches the Edgerton Center’s K-12 classes. “Wow,” she adds, her eyes open wide and her eyebrows raised. Her excitement is not forced. The students are no ordinary group: They attend Beverly School for the Deaf (BSD) in Beverly, Massachusetts, and their needs are diverse.

While some students have cochlear implants or hearing aids, others can hardly hear at all. This means that, to accommodate all students, teachers at BSD must alternate between the use of sign language and oral speech when giving instructions. Today’s visit to MIT is no different.

As Fitzgerald paces herself in giving oral instructions in English, Isabelle Pisini, staff member at BSD, interjects with the same instructions in American Sign Language. Pisini’s cheerful hand motions and Fitzgerald’s lips take turns commanding the students’ attention. All the while, the five students maintain surprisingly sunny expressions...

Read the complete MIT News article