This fall, a group of Des Moines Girl Scouts learned that getting old has its disadvantages, including sore feet. The 10 Scouts decided to tackle that problem in this year’s FIRST Lego League competition, in which teams compete in a Lego robot game and complete a project that fits this year’s theme, “Senior Solutions.”
This bright young bunch needed help from some experts, so they turned to DMU’s College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery (CPMS). The Scouts came to DMU’s Foot and Ankle clinic for a tour on November 7 and then began meeting twice a week with a group of CPMS students, including members of the American Association of Women Podiatrists (AAWP).
“We talked about many reasons why seniors’ feet hurt. For many, it’s due to arthritis or diabetes,” says Alison D’Andelet, D.P.M.’15, AAWP president. I told them one of the best things you can do is wear the right shoes. The problem is many women may view those shoes as ugly and won’t wear them. The girls decided their project would be to make diabetic shoes pretty.”
To make that point and demonstrate their prettified shoes, the girls came up with a skit involving a podiatric physician who advises three older women with bad feet to wear appropriate shoes. When the patients refuse, the designers of the more stylish shoes come to the rescue.
While the girls learned about podiatric medicine and diabetes during their project, they learned teamwork and problem-solving. They also gained mentors in the CPMS students, who hope the girls will stay excited about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
Icing on the cake – or, perhaps I should say, sparkles on one’s shoe – the Girl Scout group, the “Dotted Ladybugs,” were one of five teams selected in the regional qualifying event on December 1 to go on to the state FIRST Lego League competition.
“The girls are so smart and energetic,” Alison notes. “I’m so impressed by what they’ve done.”
Also impressive are the CPMS students who took the Ladybugs under their wings. “I like the idea of having girls interested in STEM,” Alison adds. “It’s been an opportunity to be role models.”