Go Baby Go: Curriculum in Service of Others

  • Academics
  • Student Life
Jessica Thibault

During this school year, a passionate group of grade 7 and 8 students undertook a unique service project. 

By applying their understanding of the engineering design process and various technological skills, a team of students modified an electric ride-on car for a child with physical disabilities. Through Go Baby Go -  a national program to modify cars for these special missions - our students were able to provide a young, local girl with a solution to her mobility issues that will build a strong foundation for brain development. Friday, June 13, 2020, the final product was delivered to a grateful family and an excited young lady!


The Go Baby Go Program

From their website:

Go Baby Go was founded by Professor Cole Galloway as part of a research project at the University of Delaware but researchers have now trained volunteers in more than 40 communities nationally and internationally with satellite sites all over the world to expand availability.

The modified toy cars give children with mobility disabilities a chance to play and socialize with their peers more easily. Past research has shown that independent mobility is linked to cognitive, social, motor, language and other developmental benefits in young children. Being pushed in a stroller or being carried from one place to another is fundamentally different from having active control over one’s own exploration, which is where the developmental gains are seen. Beyond mobility and socialization, we hope that the ride-on cars provide children with disabilities a chance to just be a kid.

There are no commercially available devices for children with mobility issues to get around on their own; and power wheelchairs cost thousands of dollars and usually aren’t an option until the children are older. The modified cars provide them independence at a much younger age and at a relatively low cost. The cars run about $100 and the electric switches and other modifications, including seating support and padding, bring the total cost to about $200.


Our Go Baby Go Project

Mr. Brian Arnold, our computer science teacher who started at SRS last fall, had previously completed 4 cars for Go Baby Go at his former school in Ohio. Here in Reno, he connected with a pediatric surgeon and a pulmonary surgeon at Renown who found the patient of the right age, with disabilities, who could benefit from the program. 

The family was on board, and so the team began to try to understand Athziry's needs. She has significant respiratory issues that require her to have four pieces of medical equipment with her at all times including an oxygen tank, an oximeter, and a respirator. She has a tube in her throat and other things going on with her body that required consideration and specific modifications to the car.

Mr. Arnold and Mr. Kuehn researched electric ride on cars, and narrowed the list to just a few that best met the requirements (24v, wide enough for two seating abreast, room for equipment or some of the equipment). They settled on the black Mercedes-Benz pickup and ordered it.

Mr. Kuehn took three students to Carson City to meet with family, and meet Athziry. The two purposes were to get the kids excited about the project, and to get more information about the technical aspects of Athziry's equipment (model numbers, dimensions, how they're used, and get more pictures).  

Armed with data about the equipment and Athziry, Mr. Arnold and Mr. Kuehn set about discussing potential designs with the students. The modification tasks generally fell into two categories: mechanical changes and electrical changes. They elected to further divide the students into teams involved in electrical mods, steering wheel mods, seat mods, equipment-holding-systems, aesthetics, and documentation (taking pictures and video). 

Up until spring break, the team had partially assembled the car, the students made mockups of the equipment (so we could experiment with placement), and the steering wheel team had completed a replacement for the steering wheel front/top that was integrated into the Big Red Switch. Once campus was closed, Mr. Kuehn and Mr. Arnold completed the rest of the modifications.

Electrical mods included 

  • wiring in the Big Red Switch to act like a gas pedal, in parallel with the "gas pedal" switch already on the floor
  • wiring in the Kill switch or Main Power switch to interrupt the power to everything
  • creating a new circuit for the underglow lighting (ground effects lighting in pink/purple) with an independent battery pack and dashboard switch.  

The team used a drill and drill bits, soldering iron, wire connectors, crimping tools, wire, heat shrinkable tubing, and a variety of hand tools for the electrical mods.

Mechanical mods included 

  • designing and 3-D printing a custom front half of the steering wheel that would better support the mounting of the Big Red Switch, complete with pink padded steering wheel cover
  • designing and 3-D printing oxygen tank mounts that would attach to the rear of the vehicle to hold the tank upright
  • designing and 3-D printing a mounting system to hold the array of AA batteries that provide power to the underglow lighting
  • designing and 3-D printing a hi-viz switch mount plate for the Kill switch at the rear of the vehicle
  • acquiring and attaching a rubber mat material as a seat cover that would provide a softer, less slippery surface for Athziry
  • mounting wooden reinforcement panels inside the rear of the vehicle for attachment to the tank mounting system
  • creating a wooden "shelf" system to hold one piece of equipment higher than the adjacent equipment so the former's hoses/tubes wouldn't run into the latter's case
  • creation of a second wooden support in the passenger side footwell to hold one piece of equipment
  • installation of several cabinet pulls and many ball-bungee cables as means to secure the equipment in place
  • attaching the feathery pink fluffy stuff along the side of the driver's seat 
  • placement of sparkly pink accents in strategic places on the car

Mr. Arnold and Mr. Kuehn put together a comprehensive guide for the family on how to use and maintain the car along with a collection of photos and stories from the team of students who worked on the project. 


Our Go Baby Go Team

The following are background stories that were given to Athziry to help her get to know some of the students behind the Go Baby Go project. In their own words regarding the project:

Holden Burns

My name is Holden Burns, I am in the 7th grade, and I am interested in technology and sports. I participate in the Sage Ridge Basketball team every year, and was hoping to compete in track, but due to the current circumstances I was unable to do so. I play with my friends online over the weekend, and enjoy improving in video games with them. Go Baby Go has been my first major community project, and I am proud I am working on it. As soon as I heard of the project’s intentions and of Athziry, I knew I should take part.

I worked on the electrical team. We modified the car to comply with Athziry’s needs by adding a big red button, with a relatively low actuation force, so Athziry could easily trigger the engine and navigate. I found wiring the big red button the most difficult, for it contained multiple steps and processes, but it turned out to be the most fun aspect of the project. One of my favorite moments when working on this project was posing for goofy pictures.

Ibby Rodriguez

Hello, my name is Ibby Rodriguez.  I am 14 years old, and I'm in 8th grade.  I like to play with my dogs, and spend time with my family. I also like to play basketball in my free time, and to participate in fun activities at school like robotics!  What led me to participate in this project was to help those in need, and to change someone's life from doing a good action.

I contributed to fixing the seat, and aesthetics.  A major challenge was figuring out what to use to make the seat more comfortable for Athziry.  Some memorable bits of the project were putting on the wheels, and figuring out how it was supposed to be assembled.  I helped put on the wheels, and I also created a design of an idea of what the car should look like.

Kevin Hong

My name is Chenkai Hong or Kevin. I came from China when I was in 5th grade.  Now I am in 7th grade, and I am 13 years old.  In school, my favorite subject is math and PE.  I like coding and history. Outside of school, I play a lot of basketball, which is my favorite sport, and I play video games with my friends on the weekends.  My favorite game is Fortnite.  I wanted to participate in this project because I wanted to help people, and remodeling a car sounded very cool. 

During the project, I contributed mostly to the design of the Big Red Switch, and the making of the boxes that served as the examples for the actual equipment that Athziry uses.  During the creation of the Big Red Switch, we thought that the original steering wheel wasn’t comfortable, and Athziry wasn’t tall enough to step on the accelerator yet, so we used Tinkercad to design a better steering wheel.  It was much easier to use than the original version and felt more comfortable.  Because we had to design a car that could fit all the equipment that Athziry needed, we had to make sure that there was enough room, so we decided to make boxes that had the same dimensions as the real equipment.  We used different colored papers to wrap around the boxes and wrote the name of the equipment on them. Therefore, we could make sure that the car fit.  I worked the most on these two assignments.  I hope that Athziry enjoys the car!


Congratulations team, on the exciting completion of such a meaningful application of your knowledge and academic studies! You have truly made a difference in your community.

  • Community Service
  • Go Baby Go
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