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Early College Helps Rooster Walk Again
Early College Helps Rooster Walk Again
Posted on 06/04/2018
Joe, the rooster, tests out his mobility solution -- made from an orange pool noodle.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Why did the rooster come to Buncombe County Early College? To get fitted for a prosthetic foot, of course, courtesy of a group of students who combined engineering minds with a desire to make a difference and a can-a-doodle-do attitude.

Joe, a rooster, was living on a wing and a prayer after losing his right foot and all the toes on his left foot to frostbite over the winter. Pam Abare, of Rescue Dog Cafe in Burnsville, rescued Joe but said he could barely walk because of his injuries.

BCEC College, Career and Community Coordinator Jeff Fleckenstein heard about Joe’s plight and recruited students to come up with a solution. The resulting club, called RoboJoe, consists of students from BCEC and Buncombe County Middle College (BCMC). They used the engineering design process (ask, imagine, plan, create, improve) to get Joe back on his feet. They used a 3D printer to create a plastic chicken foot prosthesis, and ultimately settled on a finger splint slipped inside a baby shoe and filled out with expanding foam.

“Innovation isn’t always creating something from nothing but reimagining existing things in a unique way," said Jeff Fleckenstein.BCEC student Robert Frady said he joined the team because he was moved by Joe’s plight and also so he could put his design skills to the test.

“This was an opportunity to not only use the things we’re learning in the real world, but to apply them and see if we can make a change, however small, for this chicken,” he said.

“We get to witness, as educators, the application of concepts and skills that they’re learning – from the process of design, to prototype, and test,” Fleckenstein said. “But also the collaboration, the creative problem solving, the innovation all come together in an authentic learning experience. To me it’s ideal.”

The learning and innovation happened in real time on Friday when Abare brought Joe to BCEC for a fitting. The prosthetics were too small, and the baby shoe kept shifting. In fact, the solution was surprisingly low tech – an orange pool noodle, trimmed a bit and attached to Joe’s leg with Velcro straps.

“At first I thought the shoe would work,” said BCMC student Brooke Potts. “I was really surprised by the pool noodle.”

“I am very impressed,” Abare said. “They had great ideas, and I loved the prototypes. But this visit today showed how important it was for Joe to actually be there.”

“There’s a genius to tinkering,” Fleckenstein added. “Innovation isn’t always creating something from nothing but reimagining existing things in a unique way.”

It’s another example of how Buncombe County Schools (BCS) provides students the tools they need, via curriculum, local industry and college connections, to achieve a better life for themselves and for our community.
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