Michigan High School Tech Students Develop New Locker Mechanism for Sixth-Grader With Cerebral Palsy

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It’s amazing what people can do with a little time, innovation, and a commitment to wanting to make the world a little better for someone else. Sometimes those people aren’t even old enough to buy lottery tickets yet. That’s the case in a recent school project that could revolutionize school lockers for kids with cerebral palsy.

According to MLive.com, a team of eight seniors from Grand Rapids’ Kent Career Technical Center’s Engineering and Architectural Design class spent about five months working on a class project that doubled as a community service activity as well.

Brin DeVries, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from nearby Excel Charter Academy, has always navigated the school hallways by wheelchair due to her cerebral palsy condition and was even given a custom locker in order to allow her to access it by herself, as she lacks the motor skills necessary to maneuver a traditional combination lock. Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability found in children and affects approximately one in 323 kids in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unfortunately, even the custom lock the school had originally gave her was a bit inadequate, too. It would typically take her multiple tries to successfully get through the three-step process, which had a 10-second timer, on the magnetic locker with a modified key. By combining the three actions into one all-inclusive, turn-key solution, the senior students were able to give DeVries even more freedom and peace of mind not having to worry about constantly running late for class.

“It certainly gives me more independence,” said DeVries, who said the old lock was frustrating. “A simple design on a computer turned into something that could help me. It’s pretty amazing!”

The high school students from the vocational tech school visited Excel Charter around five times to observe the lock and the specific struggles Devries was having with it. When they started to come up with a plan, they even got to work with the lock’s manufacturer, Hallowell, to get all the exact specifications. By eliminating one piece and adding another, the student were able to redesign the lock and used a 3D printer to create the new one.

“I am just extremely thrilled to be a part of a school that is so involved in making its students better, and at the same time trying to make an impact in the community and be a force for good around,” said Trevor Corrigan, one of the seniors who worked on the project and will be majoring in engineering at the University of Michigan next year.

Reportedly, the design is currently being reviewed for a patent.

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