When drawing from a wellspring of innovation, obstacles readily become opportunities. This truth has been wonderfully realized at Newton High School in New Jersey. Sometimes it simply takes a moment seeing someone else in need to spur creativity and philanthropy. Justin Hermann, a senior at Newton saw a handicapped student struggling with her locker and suddenly the school’s 3D printer had a new opportunity, a new purpose.
The printer is used in the advanced principal design class, and Justin teamed with fellow student, Robert Borgognoni, to fabricate a plastic modification for the student’s locker. Currently, the lockers require a student to pinch the handles to open them, but the ability to pinch eluded the freshmen because her hand lacked the dexterity to operate the handle.
After three weeks of design, the team produced a plastic cover to place over the locker handle and the locker is kept shut with magnets installed inside. Their teacher Brian Bennington explained the modification, “What is keeping it attached to the locker is a bolt that goes through one side and is buried into the other side. The person can simply pull on the handle attached to it. They no longer have to worry about the latch.” In case you were wondering, the freshmen did not request the service, but definitely appreciated the device once installed.
With two MakerBot 3D printers, Newton has seen the emergence of innovation, creativity, and active learning from its students. While Hermann posited the idea, Borgognoni took to task on the design with SolidWorks. The effort is an example of students taking initiative to learn systems and manifest original designs, essentially arriving to school eager instead of being coerced into learning. The process is best exemplified by Hermann when he says, “[the process] opened my eyes to what we can do.”