A teacher and two high school students in Hanoi have created a gravel-studded carpet that helps teach children with Down syndrome how to read by having them perform physical movement.
The creation is a collective product of Duong Thi Thu Ha, a biology teacher at Le Loi High School in the capital and two eleventh graders Bui Minh Ngoc and Bui Khanh Vy.
The carpet is fitted with small colorful stones all over it and has four patches with force sensors mounted beneath.
It is accompanied by a computer with a special program to process sensor signals, and a television set or projector that is used as the output.
The system is named PSE, standing for “picture, sound, expressive.”
When the television shows an arrow to one of the given four alphabetical letters, the user is expected to step on the corresponding letter on the carpet.
A correct movement receives praise while a wrong one is followed by a word of encouragement for a second attempt.
|The carpet made by Duong Thi Thu Ha and two high-school students. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Children with Down syndrome showed excitement in playing on the carpet, she said.
Ha said the motivation to design the system occurred to her after she realized how difficult it was for under-40 adults with the syndrome to handle drawing and teachers to care for them at a center for people, mostly children, with congenital disabilities in Hanoi.
Ha wanted to give an interesting experience in learning reading to them.
She had the carpet tested multiple times to find its shortcomings, hoping children would be immediately attracted to the object after putting their feet on it.
Ngoc, one of the two students who worked with Ha, said the greatest problem in making the system was seeking the glue that fixed stones to the carpet material.
With the system, Ha and the two eleventh graders brought home the grand prize of VND100 million ($4,300) from a national contest for educational inventions this month.