- Associated Press - Sunday, March 19, 2017

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) - While working on an assignment, Brady Lance’s dyslexic friend asked for help to write the letter D because he didn’t know which way the circle goes into the letter.

Lance, a fifth-grader in the Environment and Spatial Technology (EAST) program at Hackler Intermediate School - which is allowing students to do student-led projects - worked on a project that would improve the way his friend read - line readers, The Baxter Bulletin (https://bit.ly/2nsBX0V ) reported.

His friend already used a line reader and said he liked it.

The 11-year-old teamed up with his friends: Braxton Carson and Blaine Tate, both 10. They’re not only helping that one friend. The line reader project has received positive feedback, and people want the boys to produce more.

The line reader project originated with the boys’ interest in 3-D printing. They began brainstorming, looking for ways to use 3-D printing to serve people. At this point, one of the boys talked about knowing a dyslexic student.

They took that into consideration. About that same time, the newly founded Twin Lakes Dyslexia Support Group contacted Hackler’s EAST facilitator, Becca Martin. The support group needed assistance with social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook.

Martin realized her students were going to have a new partner.

They began researching dyslexia and stumbled upon line readers. The trio made it a mission to improve the line readers they found by 3-D printing them, adding new features to make it their own.

Based on the line readers that were found, the boys noticed they were really thin and scratched easily, helping the reader to focus on two lines.

The EAST students wanted theirs to be durable. Their line readers, which are the length of a standard notebook paper, feature a window that focuses on one line at a time, supporting the reader in capturing one line of texts.

That same window also helps the reader read the entire line. To read the next line, the dyslexic student only has to slide the line reader downward.

The old line reader that they used, however, was short. A dyslexic student would have to move the line reader to the right to read the following sentence. The line readers won’t necessarily come in handy for every dyslexic student, but Hackler tried to answer one of the problems that dyslexic people have - visual stress.

According to the Dyslexia Research Institute’s website, 10 to 15 “percent of the U.S. population has dyslexia, yet five out of every one hundred dyslexics are recognized and receive assistance. Approximately 60 percent of individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders are also dyslexic; however, their learning and language differences are often unrecognized because only the behavioral aspects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) are addressed.”

The site also added, “Without the proper diagnosis and help, many of these dyslexics and ADHD individuals are only functionally literate, and are part of the 44 million adults with only the lowest level of literacy.”

Lance said being able to help his friend makes him “feel really good,” adding this is one of his good friends. The 3-D printing and the designing are done in class; they research dyslexia at home.

“I want to help him,” he said.

This isn’t the first project they worked on to serve the community.

“We help people a lot,” he said.

Before starting on the line readers, they were working on a project that would help students with autism.

“We’re always trying to make an impact,” Lance said.

After realizing the impact the line readers could have, the Twin Lakes Dyslexia Support Group started promoting it, Martin said.

Parents heard of the project during a meeting; they asked the boys if they could either buy or have a line reader. A teacher asked for a whole class set.

The boys have access to a 3-D printer, but it only allows them to print about three line readers per day. From that point, Martin and the boys knew they needed help.

Micro Plastics, Inc. agreed to reproduce the line readers in mass amounts at a minimal cost - roughly 1,000 line readers. Normally, they wouldn’t take on a project like that, but the company sees the power of what the boys are doing, Martin said.

The school is accepting donations. To contribute, email Martin at [email protected] or call 425-1288.

Not only is the project getting local attention, it’s been chosen as one of the five finalists in the EAST Initiative competition - or National Service Project - which occurred March 15 in Hot Springs.

There are approximately 236 schools in the EAST Initiative within different schools districts across five states. Hackler’s EAST program is fairly new.

“That’s a huge honor for us,” Martin said.

___

Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, https://www.baxterbulletin.com

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