Students at Awtrey Middle School in Kennesaw, GA are passionate about making a difference for middle school students with autism, and they are well on their way to doing just that with a developing app called Socialfari.
Awtrey Middle School’s Robotics Club students participate in FIRST LEGO League competitions. FIRST LEGO League is an international STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) competition for elementary and middle school students that focuses on real-world challenges related to the sciences. This year the students were tasked with responding to the FIRST LEGO League WORLD CLASS Question – “How could we improve the way that someone learns?” Awtrey’s students chose to respond by developing an app to help middle school students with autism learn and improve their social skills. Their app is called Socialfari. On Saturday, January 10th Awtrey’s Robotics team took home the FIRST LEGO League Super-Regional 2nd place Champions Award. Recently, they learned they will move on to state-level competition!
The Socialfari app was designed to teach social skills through a game format which appeals to middle school aged students and their interests. Students are rewarded with “virtual field trips” as they correctly respond to various social situations – those they are likely to encounter in the middle school setting. The concept for the app was developed after meeting with the school’s autism teachers, where the Robotics Team students learned about some of the challenges faced by middle school students with autism. The students did not stop there – they reached out to experts in the community. They met with Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP, Educational Outreach Specialist at Marcus Autism Center, along with several experts from the Cobb County School District. In a separate meeting, they met with Heather Hackett-Hayes, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and owner of Spectrum Behavioral Associates in Kennesaw, GA where middle school aged students with autism attend social skills groups.
Recently, Awtrey’s Robotics Club reached out to Autism Speaks Georgia Chapter to receive feedback and advice about their Socialfari app. Improving the lives of those affected by autism is a cause these students have whole-heartedly embraced! Please join Autism Speaks in wishing these students success in their journey to state-level competition, as well as their pursuit to make their app a reality for middle school aged students with autism.
Editor’s Note: Our students and teachers in our Cobb County schools never cease to amaze me —