Students at Sato Academy

Sato Academy is a four year STEM high school in Long Beach, California. With about 460 students, students in ninth to 12th grade specialize in engineering and biomedical pathways, with 12th grade students taking part in a capstone project.

Students learn CAD (Computer Aided Design) in the ninth grade, and assistive technology is a particular focus in the biomedical pathway as a way to incorporate the skills from engineering — for example, some students work on assistive technology for people with disabilities at the nearby Ranchos Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center for their capstone project.

So when teacher Tamara Araya learned about Neil Squire and Makers Making Change’s #ATWorldRecord attempt, and the chance to learn more about DIY assistive technology, she became very excited.

“When we saw this world record attempt, we thought, how are we not getting our whole school involved in this?” says Tamara, who teaches 10th grade physics and the 12th grade biomedical innovations course.

Much of the school got involved in taking part in the lesson. Students were particularly captivated by the stories of people helped by assistive technology, like Ashley and Ean, and the fact that they could make a difference themselves.

“They were really engaged,” Tamara explains. “A lot of the students afterwards were commenting that they were really surprised at how easy it was [to get involved]. They said, ‘Wow, we know how to CAD, we have 3D printers here,’ and some of the other kids were like, ‘Can we do this?’”

Tamara says the message that anyone can help really resonated with her.

“It was the idea of helping others. I don’t think we do that enough in our society, and we don’t realize that it’s so simple to do,” she shares. “I really thought that it was important that everyone sees that, especially at a young age that they have skillsets already, they don’t have to be 30 to be able to impact the world — you don’t have to create products that are like the next million dollar product — it’s something so simple as you’re just helping the person next to you.”

Now the school can take pride in having been a part of history, as Neil Squire and Makers Making Change were named official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ record holders for the most people to take an online assistive technology lesson in 24 hours.

Going forward, while the 12th grade students have their capstone project, the school wants to get the younger grades more involved in projects to scaffold their learning experience with assistive technology. The ninth graders at Sato Academy will be taking part in the Make:able challenge later this year. And of course, the school is interested in getting more involved with Makers Making Change.

“That’s what sparked this all, if we want our students to be able to do that and use the technology we have to help, then let’s start it at every grade level,” Tamara explains. “At our school site, we have the technology, we have the knowledge, we just need to now start making this applicable to them so that they can start this process.”