Oldham County students create system to help visually-impaired p - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Oldham County students create system to help visually-impaired players shoot baskets

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GOSHEN, Ky. (WDRB) -- Basketball, especially in the Bluegrass, is something that bonds so many. So how do you make basketball fun for everyone?

That's the challenge students at North Oldham High School took on to create a way to help the visually-impaired shoot baskets.

"We wanted to create an experience so that a visually-disabled person can enjoy the thrill of actually making baskets," said Pete Williams, who teaches the Engineering Concepts class where students took on the task.

Cole Gerdemann and Allyssa England are the students who spearheaded the project, which was two years in the making. "It's just a challenge and I want to solve the problem and make this thing a reality so that people can enjoy it," said Gerdemann.

To see if they were on the right track with their design ideas, students took a tour of the Kentucky School for the Blind.

"I don't think there were a lot of people playing basketball or sports. So it's a lot of fun to see that kids would actually be able to play sports that other people that can see can play," said England.

They used feedback from visually-impaired students to develop the system that's based on a grid system. Sensors line the outside of the court picking up movement. When a player triggers the sensors, it tells the system the player's location.

"We can then move the basketball return to point toward the player," said England.

Once a player takes a shot, sensors on the backboard tell the player how to adjust their shot. But that wasn't necessarily a slam dunk.

"Try to figure out how to get that attached so it would be square, it would be strong and it wouldn't shatter the sensors if a ball hit it," said Gerdemann.

It's quite a complex system designed exclusively by students, especially considering they had no knowledge of programming or how to integrate the system before the class.

"I had to completely learn that from scratch to put this together, and that was a huge learning experience and a huge challenge," said Gerdemann.

But those challenges have paid off as they look to improve the lives of others with their invention.

"You don't hear very many schools that are trying to reach out in the community through the STEM system," said England.

While England heads off to UK to study engineering, Gerdemann will continue working on the project next year, with hopes of eventually testing it at the Kentucky School for the Blind.

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