The students of the ULIS class of the Rabastens college have made their own soapbox

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Lautrec is organizing a soapbox competition on May 27th. A team of students from the Champollion faculty in Albi will take to the track in a racing car made 100% by students from the ULIS class (Localized Units for Scholastic Inclusion) from the Léon Gambetta college in Rabastens.

Whatever the result in the race, Carl Burguès, ULIS professor of the college of Rabastens – a class made up of students with cognitive disorders – knows that victory lies elsewhere. “The fund is over, it’s beautiful, we’ve already won,” he explains. The former SVT teacher knows that his college students, under the age of 16, will not be able to participate in the D-Day race.

It took almost two months to put this brioche-shaped box on wheels. A nod to the bakery on rue des pains in Saint-Sulpice. The bodywork is made entirely of recycled materials: a table frame, roof racks and even a wreck of an airplane engine decorate the racing car. To make the shell, the college students gathered egg cartons, newspaper, and wire mesh to best recreate a full-sized brioche.

A method of learning

“These students need concreteness, to understand why they work”: Carl Burgues is not at his first project with ULIS. He’s method allows students to approach their curriculum in a different way. For the size of the soapbox, for example, students worked on math and physics. “They make calculations without realizing it.”

This is not Carl Burgues’ first project with ULIS.

Equipped with a 3D printer, the class even designed a double pulley spring system to turn the wheel. “Students take responsibility,” explains Carl Burguès. The opportunity for some of them to take on the role of project manager. By combining thoughtful work and hands-on activities, students become handymen, capable of welding iron bars, like designing a 3D model on software.

Many projects

These college students can spend the entire week with Carl or join their class on topics they feel most comfortable with. Everyone embodies their own schedule for the day: the morning is dedicated to individual work and the afternoon is time for group projects, where everyone gets involved in their own way.

The Rabastens ULIS class is renowned for its many creations. In 2022 they created the Ulis Board, a vehicle that helps children with mobility difficulties. Again this year, the students invented a “schoolbag”: a device that features a back-bracing harness to hold the backpack against the back and distribute the weight.

But also the solar stove, an ecological solution for heating food with the sun, during excursions or walks. These two innovations also earned the college a nomination for the Sciences Factor competition to be held in Paris on June 16.

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