A slightly different school day

Can you make youngsters aware of the needs of people with disabilities while increasing their interest in STEM subjects? That’s the aim of CYBATHLON @school!

What are the difficulties that people with physical disabilities face in their day-to-day lives? How does the human nerve system work and how does an accident affect it? Why does differential calculation help when developing a functioning prosthetic arm? Pupils do not normally spend much time looking at topics such as these. CYBATHLON @school aims to help pupils experience them for themselves.

In April 2019, the CYBATHLON visited the Büelrain cantonal school in Winterthur. The modular programme extends from biology to ethics and can be taught on a multidisciplinary basis. This time the Sport module was on the agenda. As an ambassador for PluSport, the specialist for disability sports in Switzerland: former elite cyclist Michele Gulino, who wears a prosthesis following a lower leg amputation. He guided the pupils as they made their way around a course wearing a prosthetic leg.

The youngsters were all concentration, because walking with a prosthetic leg takes some practice. Gulino answered a range of questions in a discussion session afterwards. Sports teacher and ETH alumnus Thomas Rüegg commented: “For me, this is the Champions League of sports teaching. This module lets school pupils bring together the things they have learned in different subjects.”

The partners behind the project are ETH Zurich’s CYBATHLON and the mint & pepper programme run by Wyss Zurich (ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich), which aims to get youngsters excited about what are known as STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The pilot phase began with two modules in 2018, and with support from donors the aim is to add new modules by the end of 2020 and reach children and teenagers throughout Switzerland and worldwide.

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