3D Printing Is a Big Help for Little Guys

26. November 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

As we get older, we tend to accept that there are some things in life that are out of our control; the best we can do is try to be prepared for them. Although we can't be prepared for every injury, we can learn from those we've already had and try to help those who are unable to help themselves.

Fortunately, the ways we can help others are being greatly improved by advances in technology. Conditions thought to be permanent just a few years ago can now be mended in a variety of ways. The following stories are about little ones who got big help from advances in 3D printing.

Puppy Love

From the moment Tumbles was born, his life wasn't easy. This adorable pup was born without his two front legs, and could not be nursed by his mother along with the rest of his litter. Hopes weren't very high for Tumbles when he was brought to an animal shelter in Athens, OH. But when a photo of the puppy went viral, his chances for a better life improved.

puppy in wheelchair
Image via IFLScience.

When the Ohio University Innovation Center learned about Tumbles, they saw a way they could help. Within fourteen hours, the Innovation Center designed and 3D-printed a special wheelchair-style apparatus for him. Tumbles is still getting used to being so mobile, but everybody is impressed by how quickly he's adapted. As shelter president Angela Marx put it, "He's a little sweetheart and doesn't act as if he has any limitations."

Hands Together

Before John Shull joined the Rochester Institute of Technology, he was put off by how prohibitive it was to procure prosthetics, especially for children. With the average attachment costing upwards of forty thousand dollars, many never received the help necessary to simplify their daily lives.

prosthetics and a laptop computer
Image via PBS.

At the Rochester Institute of Technology in Upstate New York, Shull and his associates have dedicated themselves to creating free, fully functional 3D-printed prosthetics for children. Although the materials used aren't as high-grade as those used in expensive, top-of-the-line models, Shull says that they're more adaptable to children who are still growing. "It doesn't make sense to spend $40,000 on something they're going to outgrow in a year."

It's important to Shull that the children receiving the prosthetics not be solely defined by them. The bespectacled inventor says, "If I didn't have glasses in a world in which there's lots of fine print, I would be disabled. As it is, I'm just a guy who wears glasses."

Little Things Matter Most

Youths adapt to their environment and circumstances far more quickly than adults, and it's that sort of adaptation that inspires people of all ages to achieve more. Although unforeseen factors can inhibit one's abilities, they can also inspire the very innovations that enable us to overcome those conditions.

Child's Play: New Printing and Design Tools

Scientists the world over agree that encouraging the creative tendencies of children is not only helpful to their overall intelligence, but crucial to their mental development. There’s also a lot of fun to be had in playtime activities such as assembling blocks, drawing pictures, and playing on jungle gyms.

While such playtime activities are encouraged during childhood, they're generally expected to be given up by adulthood. But if childhood games can stimulate the brain of a young person, who’s to say they wouldn't work on people who’ve become set in their ways? Several of the world’s most prominent behavioral therapists have asked that very question.

Fine Line

Coloring books have been a staple of children’s playtime for over a century, and their popularity shows no signs of waning. A typical volume consists of vector-like black-and-white images, with color added by the user. Recently, this “childish” past time has seen an increase in popularity among adults as a calming activity for their increasingly stressful lives.

adult coloring book design
Image via The Atlantic.

In a recent piece for The Atlantic, writer Julie Beck argues that, although this appears to fall into the recent trend of adults' recreating childhood activities, coloring is in fact a form of art therapy. “There's something satisfying about seeing your thought and effort create a tangible, pretty thing at a reasonable, predictable pace,” says Beck. “This rarely happens in life.” Beck reports that the technique has proved useful for her in dealing with the pressures of everyday life, and believes it could for many others.

Baby’s First Design Kit

In an increasingly digitized world, it’s easy for both children and parents to look at modern technology as nothing more than an easy distraction for the little ones so that parents can steal a few moments for themselves. But this hasn’t stopped many innovators from using technological tools to teach children practical skills.

can-do children's products
Image via Mental Floss.

Khandu (pronounced “Can Do”) is a forthcoming game created by the Spanish design agency Seven Thinkers. The goal of the card game is to teach children how to think like designers, getting them to come up with and implement ideas. Although the game is currently only available through Seven Thinkers’ Kickstarter campaign, the creators are hoping to have it accepted as part of Pope Francis’s Scholas Occurentas program.

Repeating Patterns

No matter what one’s age, it’s important to have a creative outlet in one's life. The stories above show that age need not decide how one's creativity is expressed. Whether you're an eight-year-old or an eighty-year-old, you should feel free to take a little time out of each day to color the world your own way.

Autumn Activities for Kids

As the leaves begin to turn brown, and kids head back to school, it becomes clear that summer is over. But you can still help your kids to make the most of their after-school hours. Here are some creative projects specially designed to help you and your children get the most out of the fall season.

Pages and Petals

Your little ones may not have finished their summer reading list, but they’ll certainly be hitting the books now. One way to make sure those books aren’t left behind in lockers or desks is to personalize them. With a few household items, you and your kids can create these floral bookmarks.

floral bookmark
Image via PBS

Friend-finder

One of the most admirable traits of children is their ability to make friends easily. One classic schoolyard method is trading friendship bracelets. If your children are a bit too young for the complex embroidery of a traditional bracelet, you might want to try a simplified glow-worm bracelet. Just think, your children could have their own googly-eyed companions to follow them wherever they go.

glow-worm bracelet
Image via PBS

For the Birds

A typical autumn school day is a lot like a typical day for a bird. Birds fly off early to learn about the world, only to fly back to the nest for food and rest. With all the care you put into your own home, why not make a separate home—or even just a feeder—for your
feathered friends

bird feeder
Image via PBS

All of the above projects and more can be found on PBS Parents. Do you have any favorite fall crafts? Share them with us in the comments!

3D-Printed LEGO Limbs Help Child Amputees Adjust

Longtime readers of this blog know that we're quite fond of LEGOs and fascinated by the use of 3D printing in the field of medicine. So when news broke of these two elements being brought together, it was only a matter of time before we told you folks about it.

A Man with a Plan

Colombian-born designer Carlos Arturo Torres interned for six months at LEGO's Future Lab. Impressed by the company's dedication to social outreach, Torres convinced them to sponsor a trip back to his hometown of Bogotá, wherein he would observe amputees at Cirec, a rehabilitation center. After spending time in the center’s youth ward, Torres came up with an idea to make a medical attachment out of their favorite toys.

Double Trouble for Young Amputees

As Torres discovered, amputee children not only have to function with a missing limb, but also face a greater social stigma amongst their peers. "My friends in psychology used to tell me that when a kid has a disability, he is not really aware of it until he faces society," says Torres. "That's when they have a super rough encounter."

Introducing Personalized Prosthetics

Torres' design, named "Iko", is for amputees aged to 3-12, covering many of the most important developmental years in a child's life. The attachment allows the child to accessorize and customize the prosthetic as they see fit, helping to build the patient's self-esteem as well as providing functional movement.

After successfully testing the prototypes at Cirec, Torres hopes to have 15 more units ready by this December, with a full production line ready by mid-2017.

Summer Fun Activities

It’s that time again. With three months off from school, the kids have no intention of just sitting around. But in addition to all of the swimming, sand, and summer barbecues, they might actually want to spend some time with their parents. Thankfully, there are quite a few home-based activities parents can do with their kids before back-to-school shopping takes place.

Tiny Terrarium

Kids and trees are a winning combination. To kids, trees are an obstacle to climb, shade from the sun, and even mythical beasts that must be slain. No matter what a tree means to them, it’s natural for a child to want one of their very own. Now they can make one.

Using a simple twig, a common glass jar, and some colorful construction paper, you and your little one can create a tiny tree that will never wilt or wither. It’ll last through the summer, the winter, and all year long.

Magic Mini-Tents

Summer and camping go together like fire and marshmallows. But if you aren’t able to get the kids into the woods this season, you can still have fun showing them how to pitch these tiny tents.

With just some stock paper and a few coloring markers, your kids will create tents the right size to fit their favorite toys.

Eyes on the Prize

The older children get, the more curious they become. They want to observe and interact with the world around them. Don’t let distance come between the wonders of nature and your child’s imagination; let them see it for themselves with these homemade binoculars.

PBS-Parents-DIY-binoculars.jpg
(via PBS Parents)

These binoculars are made from yarn, toilet paper rolls, and duct tape. They might not have any lenses, but they’ll teach even the smallest nature-lover the beauty of watching the world around them.

For more summertime craft ideas, visit PBS Parents.

Crazy Cardboard Crafts for Kids

Have you ever had to watch after a child? If you have, then you know that even if you aren’t a parent, it’s a challenge to keep them occupied for very long. They seem to have unlimited supplies of energy, their small size allows them to get into areas you can’t, and the more of them you have around, the more exhausted you’ll be by the end of the day.

Fortunately for you, a child’s energy is matched only by their curiosity. It can be tempting to simply drop them in front of some electronic device or another to keep them distracted. But with a child’s developmental years being the most crucial, this is an opportunity for parents and guardians to help children channel their curiosity into creativity.

If you’re worried about not being able to afford the latest hot toys, don’t worry: here are a few craft projects that can be done with something you probably have all around the house. These projects will teach your children not only how to use their imaginations, but also how to make the most use out of discarded materials. All it takes is a little cardboard.

Ringing Endorsement

It’s easy for a kid to look at their parents’ shiny baubles and want to try them on. It makes them feel grown up and fancy. It also might be expensive, so a parent isn’t likely to just let a kid go through their jewelry box at their leisure. Luckily, there’s a way for kids to get fancy without you getting expensive. Try making cardboard rings.

All it takes is a collection of thin cardboard (cereal boxes will work just fine), scissors to cut them with, paint, brushes, a hot glue gun, and a marker. You and the kids can design them in whatever shapes come to mind, then show them off to everyone you know.

PBS-cardboard-rings.jpeg
(via PBS.org)

Tall Wall

Once you have kids, doesn’t it seem as if you’ve suddenly wound up with enough toilet paper rolls to reach the roof? Well, now you can do that by making your own stackers.

You can use the empty rolls from toilet paper or paper towels. The only supplies you’ll need are scissors, paint, and paintbrushes. Once again, the design is whatever your child can imagine. Paint the rolls as bright as you want and stack them as high as they can go. Just be sure not to let your kids try to climb it.

PBS-tall-wall.jpg
(via PBS.org)

Very Fine House

Rings and walls are nice, but what if your child is looking to build a home all their own? They might want to take a shot at building the cardboard neighborhood.

Once again, you’ll need cereal boxes and a hot glue gun. You’ll also need a pencil, paint, a ruler, string, and scissors. Now your children can actually build the houses they go past every day.

cardboard-houses.jpg
(image via Rudy and the Dodo)

Crazy Cardboard Crafts for Kids

Have you ever had to watch after a child? If you have, then you know that even if you aren’t a parent, it’s a challenge to keep them occupied for very long. They seem to have unlimited supplies of energy, their small size allows them to get into areas you can’t, and the more of them you have around, the more exhausted you’ll be by the end of the day.

Fortunately for you, a child’s energy is matched only by their curiosity. It can be tempting to simply drop them in front of some electronic device or another to keep them distracted. But with a child’s developmental years being the most crucial, this is an opportunity for parents and guardians to help children channel their curiosity into creativity.

If you’re worried about not being able to afford the latest hot toys, don’t worry: here are a few craft projects that can be done with something you probably have all around the house. These projects will teach your children not only how to use their imaginations, but also how to make the most use out of discarded materials. All it takes is a little cardboard.

Ringing Endorsement

It’s easy for a kid to look at their parents’ shiny baubles and want to try them on. It makes them feel grown up and fancy. It also might be expensive, so a parent isn’t likely to just let a kid go through their jewelry box at their leisure. Luckily, there’s a way for kids to get fancy without you getting expensive. Try making cardboard rings.

All it takes is a collection of thin cardboard (cereal boxes will work just fine), scissors to cut them with, paint, brushes, a hot glue gun, and a marker. You and the kids can design them in whatever shapes come to mind, then show them off to everyone you know.

PBS-cardboard-rings.jpeg
(via PBS.org)

Tall Wall

Once you have kids, doesn’t it seem as if you’ve suddenly wound up with enough toilet paper rolls to reach the roof? Well, now you can do that by making your own stackers.

You can use the empty rolls from toilet paper or paper towels. The only supplies you’ll need are scissors, paint, and paintbrushes. Once again, the design is whatever your child can imagine. Paint the rolls as bright as you want and stack them as high as they can go. Just be sure not to let your kids try to climb it.

Very Fine House

Rings and walls are nice, but what if your child is looking to build a home all their own? They might want to take a shot at building the cardboard neighborhood.

Once again, you’ll need cereal boxes and a hot glue gun. You’ll also need a pencil, paint, a ruler, string, and scissors. Now your children can actually build the houses they go past every day.

cardboard-houses.jpg
(image via Rudy and the Dodo)

Cozy Up With Winter Crafts

30. November 2013 10:23 by Steve Leigh in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

"Oh, the weather is outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful..." Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we're ready to bust out our favorite sweaters and cozy up next to the radiant heat of a fireplace. We're going to listen to our favorite tunes, make delicious hot beverages, and bust out craft projects to add a festive "Ho Ho Ho," no matter if you're living in upstate Maine or sunny Miami.

We've got a few projects that are easy to make, require relatively easy-to-find ingredients, and will take advantage of some supplies you already have on hand. More...

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