By Simon | 3Ders.org
Although the past few years have brought some hits and misses for the Obama administration, there’s no denying that one of the best things to come out of the past few years has been an increase in STEM-based learning initiatives and a focus on how tomorrow’s generation can be better-suited for learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills. Among other ways that the White House has helped show how valuable they think this is is by hosting an annual Science Fair to celebrate projects from students across the United States.
Today, President Obama is hosting his 5th annual White House Science Fair and along with seeing first-hand some of the best projects over the past year, will also be announcing that over $240 million in new private sector funding will be presented to help boys and girls that are “under-represented, inspired, and prepared to excel in the STEM fields”. In total, Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign has raised over $1 billion in financial support to help aid various STEM programs across all fifty states.
Of course, with the accessibility to 3D printing being higher than it ever has been both in schools and homes, at least a couple of the projects being presented today will make use of additive manufacturing technology. Unsurprisingly, both of the projects that use 3D printing involve one of the best uses for 3D printing today: creating designs that enable those in need to live a better quality of life through the use of 3D printed prosthetics or other enabling devices.
One of the projects that will be presented today comes from Massachusetts’ NuVu school. The NuVu school is located near the 3D printing-friendly MIT college that has been responsible for churning out some of the most exciting additive manufacturing-based developments in recent memory.
For their project, NuVu students Mohammed Sayed and Kaitlin Reed, both 16-years old, gave Sayed’s own wheelchair a 3D printed upgrade through designing and fabricating a “hand-drive” lever-powered attachment that is capable of propelling Sayed’s (or another user’s) wheelchair both forward and backwards with less effort than manually turning the wheelchair’s wheel by hand. Not only is the design capable of helping thousands who have difficulty propelling themselves on their wheelchair, but it is also able to be easily added or removed to a wheelchair and can be customized for specific wheelchairs thanks to the team keeping the design open source.
While the 3D printed lever is certainly worthy of World Science Fair attention, Sayeed continued to iterate on improving his wheelchair through 3D printed accessories and also created a modular Universal Arm design that enables a wheelchair user to easily add a food tray, a camera tripod, a rain canopy, a laptop holder, a cup holder and other extensions to existing wheelchairs.
Along with Sayed and Reed, fellow Science Fair presenter Derby the Dog, 18-months old, will be showing off his innovative new 3D printed prosthetic legs that have enabled him to run and play after being born with deformed front legs that make supporting weight while moving difficult.
Derby, whose owner Tara Anderson works at a South Carolina company that focuses on 3D printing, had his custom-made prosthetics created after being scanned and photographed. The data was then used to create 3D models that ultimately became his new front legs. Today, Derby runs over 2 miles every morning using his new legs.
Although every project and creator that are being presented at the Science Fair today deserve their time in the limelight, it’s nice to see that the projects that make use of additive manufacturing are doing it not just to prove a theory - but to help make the world a better place for all living things.
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