The Short of It
A 10-year-old girl has designed her own prosthetic arm, and it shoots sparkles!
Jordan Reeves was born without part of her left arm, and it's always been a struggle to find the right prosthetic. So when the 10-year-old was invited to join the Superhero Cyborgs workshop in San Francisco in January, she jumped at the chance.
The program, which is hosted by nonprofit organization Kidmob and 3-D software company Autodesk, connects children with upper-limb differences with design and engineering professionals so they can create their own custom-made prosthetics to help improve their world.
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"It's about inviting kids who are often viewed as disabled to design themselves into being super-abled," Kate Ganim, co-director of Kidmob, told Today. "We're asking the question, 'If not a hand, than what?'"
During the five-day workshop, the kids involved were given the design challenge of taking advantage of the bodies they have to turn themselves into superheroes. For Jordan, that meant transforming her arm into a five-barrel glitter cannon that shoots out sparkles.
Because what 10-year-old girl doesn't love sparkles?
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Jordan got busy sketching, and by Day 5, she had a working prototype—a 3-D-printed cast of her arm with a plastic cuff made to fit over it.
"The testing and prototyping was amazing," said Ganim. "There was glitter everywhere."
"It was a really, really cool experience," Jordan said. "I just got to be with people like me and let my feelings be shared and stuff. Before, my creativity and thoughts about what I could do were kind of just locked up. When I went to the workshop, it unlocked it. And now I'm letting my creative, building side do what it wants."
And what it wants, is what all kids want: to sparkle.
"I brought [the prototype] to school," said Jordan. "And all my friends were like, 'Wow, that's really cool. I wish I could shoot sparkles from my arm.'"
Well, who doesn't?
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And while the workshop may be over, Jordan will continue to work with her mentor and designer partner, Sam Hobish, who currently works at Autodesk and is focused on 3-D printing, to help further finesse her design. Very basic prototypes were completed at the workshop, but a lot still needs to be done to transform the kids' very fun ideas into prosthetics they can actually use.
"Our first goal is to design a base upon which we can build the glitter cannon," Hobish told Today. "We're trying to see if we can make some functional adjustments to one particular design so that Jordan can have some elbow and finger motion. This will make shooting a basketball and holding a cell phone far easier."