Valley high school STEM students competing in annual AT challenge

Southwest Human Development’s annual MAKERS of Change Assistive Technology Challenge presented by Nextiva Cares brings together Valley high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), coding and robotics teams to troubleshoot and create “real world” solutions using Internet of Things (IoT) technology that helps improve the lives of young children with disabilities.

“This annual challenge focuses on families served by our ADAPT Shop, which is one of the many Easterseals disabilities programs we offer,” said Jake Adams, chief development officer at Southwest Human Development. “Last year, local students developed some truly incredible projects that are now being used by the families we serve. We were really impressed.”

Sponsored by Nextiva, CopperPoint Insurance Companies, Cox Communications, West Pharmaceutical, Fiesta Bowl Charities and Education Empowers, Inc., the MAKERS of Change Assistive Technology Challenge works to develop real-life applications to the hurdles faced by young children with disabilities. Each high school team, plus their coach, select one of four scenarios to help solve a problem that is experienced by children in our community. Teams then develop and build a solution for their chosen scenario using IoT technology.

Southwest Human Development’s ADAPT Shop is a place where every project begins with an idea based on a need and ends with a life improved. Thanks to a dedicated and experienced team of therapists and our ADAPT Shop fabricator, children from birth to age 5 who have physical disabilities receive the supports they need to become independent, active participants in activities enjoyed by other children their age.

This year’s participating schools include three teams from Phoenix Union High School District, three teams from Brophy College Preparatory, and teams from Education Empowers, Inc. and Arizona College Prep in the Chandler Unified School District. Also participating for the first time this year is a team from Science Prep Academy, an Arizona autism private school dedicated to providing opportunities for academic, physical, social and emotional growth through STEM-based teaching and learning.

Final team presentations will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix. Teams will be evaluated on a variety of qualitative measures by a judging panel of industry professionals.

For more information about the MAKERS of Change Assistive Technology Challenge, visit