While school projects are often seen as mundane, Tom Burick, a technology instructor at PS Academy, strives to create exceptional experiences for his students. PS Academy, located in Gilbert, Arizona, is a K-12 school that provides specialized support for students with autism and other exceptionalities. Burick’s goal is to create in-class activities that are memorable and stand out from typical school projects.
By providing unique experiences, Burick hopes to inspire his students to learn and develop a passion for technology. His approach highlights the importance of creating engaging learning opportunities for students with diverse needs and abilities. The school’s focus on supporting students with autism and other exceptionalities emphasizes the need for tailored education and opportunities that support the unique needs of each student. Through Burick’s innovative approach, PS Academy is setting an example for other schools to follow in supporting and empowering students of all abilities.
Tom Burick, a technology instructor at PS Academy in Gilbert, Arizona, proposed a unique class project for the fall 2022 semester: building a functional electric car. The class was excited to take on the challenge but first had to decide on what type of vehicle to build. After much discussion, the class ultimately agreed on constructing their own version of the Tesla Cybertruck. Kai, a student at PS Academy, explained why they chose the Cybertruck: “It’s a pretty unique vehicle, and it’s instantly recognizable. We wanted to be up for the challenge.” With six months to complete the project and the help of 70 students, Burick began planning how to make their idea a reality.
As with real-world automotive production, the class began by creating a concept for their Tesla Cybertruck replica. “We obtained references for the Cybertruck and analyzed them to see how it would appear vertically,” Ember explained in an interview with the class. The team then translated the measurements into a cardboard model.
“We created the full prototype out of cardboard before we began building it,” Burick stated. “We only had a 4’x8′ sheet available in the lab, so we couldn’t make a 17-foot-long Cybertruck. We could only make it 8 feet long, which would significantly alter the truck’s proportions. In that limited space, we knew we had to make it resemble the Cybertruck. We spent a significant amount of time adjusting the dimensions to create something 8 feet long that still looked like a Cybertruck.” Eventually, the team finished the cardboard prototype. “We had the trunk, front, the bumpers, and everything all glued together to show the prototype,” said Theo.