Stevenson Middle School students brought some holiday cheer to a nearby children’s hospital this week with the delivery of interactive toys the students designed and 3D-printed in their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes.
Nearly 50 seventh- and eighth-graders in Stevenson’s STEM and Video Art Computer Technology classes took a field trip to Shriners Children Hospitals – Honolulu to drop off their creations that included infinity cubes, fidget spinners and puzzles.
Eighth-grader Ethan Uehara said students wanted to design more than simple figurines and brainstormed to come up with ideas for interactive toys.
“Kids at Shriners, if they’re sitting in their bed, they need something to do. This is kind of a fidget toy that they can mess around with and keep them occupied,” Ethan said while holding an infinity cube — a toy made of spinning cube-shaped cohorts that can be folded around and on top of one another, forming the toy into and out of a single cube.
“I felt glad I could be helping someone that doesn’t have anything,” he said. “Knowing that we can help them, I feel really happy.”
Stevenson Middle Principal Katherine Balatico said she was so impressed by the students’ heartwarming gesture.
“I think the connection that our students are making between STEM and giving back is phenomenal,” Balatico said. “It really touches my heart … that Stevenson students are putting other children’s lives and holiday season in the forefront of their mind and wanting to give back to them.”
Eighth-grader Roza Makanani designed and 3D-printed a miniature game that she hopes patients will enjoy.
“I just thought of a game that I used to always play, and Connect Four came to mind and I was like, that would be kind of cool if I made a miniature Connect Four,” she said.
Roza said sharing the gifts with children at the hospital made her happy. “I feel proud that they like them,” she said.
The students also delivered several big Santa sacks filled with T-shirts they designed and printed (emblazoned with “Keiki Warrior” across the front), holiday-themed fleece blankets they made, and various wish-list items for the hospital’s recreational area including coloring books, art supplies and stickers.
The project was made possible through an educational grant Stevenson STEM teacher Patricia Morgan won last year through the annual Thank America’s Teachers Dream Big Teacher Challenge, sponsored by Farmers Insurance.
“Since we feel so fortunate for getting the $100,000 grant from Farmers, we feel really responsible to give back,” Morgan said.
Her grant proposal involved establishing an “Innovative Invention Imaginarium” as a space for service learning and creating for students. The classrooms are are outfitted with 3D printers, computers, sewing machines, a T-shirt printer and other technology.
“We wanted to take care of our local community such as the children’s hospital. One of the projects is having the students 3D model and 3D print toys for the kids that are in Shriners … so that they know that they’re loved during the holiday season,” Morgan said.
Angela Keen, director of marketing and communications for Shriners Hospital in Hawaii and the Pacific Basin, said the gifts and other donated items will benefit hundreds of children.
“Although 80 percent of our kids are local kids, the other 20 percent come from the Pacific Basin and they don’t have a lot. So the holidays can be very difficult for them, being away from home, being in an unusual place, having medical care, being in pain,” Keen said.
“To have the Stevenson kids come here and present these gifts to the kids is a very big deal. But what’s even more meaningful is that this was a school project — the students created these things with their hands and with the 3D printer and the grant that their teacher received,” Keen said. “That means the world to us to know that this is handmade and very special from the Stevenson students.”
“There’s nothing better than receiving a gift at this time of the year when they’re going through some challenging times in their life,” she said.