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3D Printing Allows Kids to Help Kids
March 19, 2016
According to 3DPrint.com, a group of talented high students in New York is getting the opportunity to learn real world skills while also helping kids with physical handicaps. The students who attend Lynbrook High School in Lynbrook, NY, have been partnered with nearby St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. One of the goals of St. Mary’s, notes their web site, is to help kids be kids. Enter the students from the Advanced Design and Innovation Class who is studying ways in which 3D printing can be used to make assistive devices for children, and you have a winning combination .
For example, one of the students at the hospital is a 17-year old named Mary who suffers from a condition which prevents much movement of her wrists. To help her do more with her hands, the students at Lynbrook worked to design a special 3D printed stylus. The custom stylus now allows Mary to use an iPad more effectively to learn and play games. Because of her troubling grasping objects, the students added a triangular piece which fits into the palm of her hand and lets her curl her fingers around it.
Senior Aleksandra Ratkiewicz said with regards to the experience, "We printed out many prototypes to figure out sizes and dimensions, and so it’s been a long process. I love designing, but to know that I can put it in real life practice and change someone’s life on a daily basis is incredible."
As with any new device, how and when it is used is largely determined by the person that is holding it. For instance, another child was given a toy designed to help her cognition through cause and effect. The toy had three buttons which can be either raised or lowered depending on which button was pressed and when. While the initial intent was for the child to use her hands, she instead opted for her chin which it turned out worked just as well.
The teacher behind this unique and well-designed course is technology education teacher Paul Rotstein. He believes that the experience has been very beneficial not only for his students, but also the recipients of the tools and objects they are designing. By providing his students these skills, they in turn are helping the kids they are helping function better than they could have without the assistance of 3D printing. Better yet, in some cases, Rotstein notes that the printed toys and games can provide a welcome distraction to the kids while undergoing their treatments.
Another student, Michael K. Deegan designed a 3D printed puzzle for kids. He remarked, "To stimulate them mentally with a puzzle, I felt like it was tagging on two fronts. It’s such a joy, and it?s such a pleasure to see them be able to apply something I’ve designed into their lives."
The examples provided in this, and in the many other stories we have seen serve to prove the importance of not only engaging students with their education, but the positive impact it can have on those around it. When the Lynnbrook students get to college, they will be that much more prepared to tackle challenges of a curriculum where critical thinking and creativity are such important skills.