Mar 29, 2016 | By Tess
There are some magical ideas that could only come from the active imaginations of children, for instance a prosthetic arm whose only function is shooting a cloud of glitter out to brighten people’s day. This last glittering idea was conceived of by 10-year-old Jordan Reeves when she was asked to create her very own superhero inspired prosthetic arm at Autodesk’s Pier 9 Superhero Cyborgs 2.0 workshop in San Francisco this past January.
The workshop, organized by 3D software company Autodesk and KIDmob, a Bay Area nonprofit kid-integrated design firm, was set up to allow kids with upper limb disabilities to work with 3D designers and engineers to bring their desired superhero powers to life through 3D modeling and 3D printing technologies. Over the five days of the workshop, a small group of children between the ages of 10 and 15 worked with 3D design tools like Tinkercad and Fusion 360 to bring their ideas to life.
Co-director of KIDmob, Kate Ganim says of the workshop, “For us, our interest is in getting kids familiar with taking an idea from concept to execution and learning the skills along the way to do that. Ideally, it’s not about the end product they end up with out of workshop; it’s more about realizing they’re not just subject to what’s available on the market. It creates this interesting closed loop system where they’re both designer and end user. That is very powerful.”
Reeves, the 10-year-old from Columbia, Missouri who came up with the 3D printed sparkle cannon idea, drew much attention at the event, not only for her inspiring idea, but for the innovative spirit which she used to pull it off. Reeves, who was born with a left arm that stops just above the elbow, has struggled to find prosthetics that fit her, as most affordable models of arm prosthetics are designed to fit onto a working elbow. As a growing child as well, investing in an expensive prosthetic is not always viable as they can only be used while they still fit the child’s arm. The workshop then, has allowed for Reeves, and other children like her, to explore their creative options for prosthetic arms and to have some fun in the process.
Reeves’ mother, Jen Lee Reeves says, “We’ve always encouraged the growth of 3D printing, because it’s more affordable. I feel like the engineers building these hands are really great, but they don’t know the body. There’s a revolution that’s emerging where doctors and experts with degrees that help the body need to know more about hacking the body with more affordable tools.” Jen Lee Reeves is the founder of Born Just Right, an online platform for parents of disabled children to share their stories and find support.
At the end of the workshop, Reeves presented her five barrelled 3D printed glitter cannon, which she called “Project Unicorn” along with the other children and their creations to employees of both Autodesk and KIDmob. From there, the “judges” of the workshop paired each of the children with a mentor to help them further develop their innovative and creative projects over the course of six months. Sam Hobish, an Autodesk designer, has partnered with Jordan to help her realize her project and make it the best it can be, even if it takes longer than the allotted six months.
He says, “I’ve been talking to my colleagues in electronics and materials development about ways we can create some kind of pressurized system that shoots out sparkles more effectively. I plan to work until we get something she really likes. If that means we make new prototypes over the course of a year, I’m fine with that. I’ll keep going until someone tells me to stop.”
Reeves, who came up with her Unicorn Project to help spread joy and happiness to those around her, is also hoping to develop a 3D printed and affordable prosthetic she can use on a more regular basis, to help her to hold a cellphone, and to help her parents with everyday chores like carrying the groceries. Here at 3Ders, we can’t help but be inspired by Jordan Reeves’ determination, creativity, and her blossoming maker-spirit. We hope that with some help from Hobish and other 3D printing experts, Reeves will soon have the affordable, and functional prosthetic arm she needs, but until then a glitter greeting from her Project Unicorn will be more than welcome!
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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