A Maryland father was given the chance of taking his son for a walk after his mobility was impaired because of brain surgery.
For a father, there is nothing more precious than spending time with his newborn son and getting to know him better, all of this became possible after students at Bullis School in Potomac helped out a fellow teacher.
Three years ago Matt Zigler, the school’s BITlab coordinator, used the school’s maker space to create a class – a collaborative workspace filled with tools and advanced technology like 3D printers for focus on “empathy-driven” projects. It was created for “making for social good.”
“The goal of the class each year is to pick a person or an organization that we can design and build something for, go through a sort of empathy-driven process to understand what it is that they really need, and then also to design something that uses the tools in the lab and could hopefully be fabricated by other people with access to similar tools,” Zigler said.
Their recent project that started in November 2020 was for a fellow teacher who gave birth to a baby boy in March 2021. Chelsie King’s husband, Jeremy, had brain surgery 3 years ago and faced balance issues, “so it wouldn’t be safe for him to carry their son around or push a stroller,” Zigler said.
The students made it their mission to help them our and interviewed the family about what they needed and wanted out of the device. The primary requirements were safety, maneuverability and for it to easily attach. “We use some 3D modeling software and they [the students] each sort of came up with different suggestions, very quick prototypes,” Zigler said.
The class was divided into two groups to test out two different designs. For one model, the students took an infant car seat and attached it directly to the wheelchair. And for the other, the students connected the wheelchair to an existing stroller, “so you could actually push the stroller in front of you,” he added.
The students gave both models to the family after extensive testing. According to Zigler, it’s important to understand that these maker spaces have the power to create things that truly help people rather than just “printing little toys and decorative objects and things” that aren’t “really functional or useful in the world.”
“It’s important to recognize the power that the tools that a maker space has to build functional things that can benefit people,” he said. What a thoughtful teacher and class of students they are to help out a father connect and spend more time with his newborn baby.