A toddler, a tank, and a tangle of tubes. McClintock Middle School sixth graders saw a problem and decided to solve it. Their class project will change lives.
Emmett Hightshoe was born with rare Kabuki Syndrome and only half of a heart. At age two, she needs help walking and breathing, so she is on oxygen 24 hours a day. That doesn’t stop her, but it can wear her parents out! They have their hands full chasing the toddler around with her oxygen tank. That’s what they were doing when Ben Davis met them.
Davis first spotted the tot and her family at the HEARTest Yard 5K race. “I saw the need that somebody was chasing her with a backpack holding the tank,” Davis told WSOCTV reporter Erin Edwards. That’s when it hit him. Couldn’t his sixth graders design something to attach to her walker that would hold her oxygen tank and deal with its 10 feet of tubing? Emmett’s parents were immediately intrigued and excited about the possibility. They loved the idea of students designing something specific that would make Emmett’s life easier.
The class talked about Emmett’s condition and restrictions. Then the students met spunky Emmett and saw her heavy oxygen tank and its tangle of tubes trailing behind her walker. Their minds started spinning. How could they attach the tank to the walker?
The students measured Emmett’s equipment and asked her mom questions. For weeks, teams of students shared ideas and sketched designs, combining math and science to develop their inventions. The teams finalized their designs on computers, and then used a 3-D printer to physically create a first design model—a prototype—from plastic.
“Far and away my mind was blown at just how thoughtful and detailed their designs were,” says Davis. The designs pushed the students to think critically and empathetically. They hope their high-tech inventions will help give other children independence too.
Davis is amazed by his class. His students jumped into the project without hindrance. In the process, their minds and hearts were stretched and little Emmett gained freedom.
This current class of sixth graders will move on. But new students will join Davis for another project. They’ve already been asked to consider designing a beach-friendly walker for a child with cerebral palsy.
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. — Mark 10:15