Empathy is the force that drives the 3D printing revolution
Empathy is the ability to experience the thoughts, emotions, and direct experiences of other people. It goes beyond sympathy, which is merely a feeling of care and understanding for the suffering of others.
After 30 years of science teaching in Great Neck, a North Shore Long Island affluent community, I can look back on many opportunities that resonated with my students. We often looked for experiences that could motivate our students and lead them to understandings outside of themselves and their individual lifestyles and experiences.
We sought out fundraising opportunities directly involving my students in the lives of the less fortunate. We visited hospitals, rehab centers and children’s wards some full of unadoptable kids with severe physical and emotional challenges. We brought in guest speakers to discuss bullying and gang violence and other important issues for our students to reflect on. We often spoke of the tremendous importance of our long running student based Community Action (after-school) committee which offered amazing opportunities for our students that transcended any and all of our traditional curriculum projects.
Now that I am retired from traditional education, I find myself working as a Professional Developer in the high tech world of 3D Printing and Scanning. I work with my business partner, Jon Monath – a highly skilled engineer and 3D printing enthusiast, providing training for teachers, librarians, camp counselors and scouting groups through our Long Island based company called Creative 3D Printing.
E-NABLE enables the future and shows the world the power of 3D printing
Recently I came across a “magical” Not For Profit company called Enabling the Future.
This company which originally started out as a couple of guys who created something to help one child in need has grown into a World Wide movement of tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students and teachers, who use 3D Printing to give the world a “helping hand”.
In other words, they are a “3D Mechanical hand and arm – Maker Movement” that was inspired by two strangers (a prop maker from the USA and a carpenter from South Africa) that came together from 10,000 miles apart – to create a prosthetic hand device for a small child in South Africa …and then gave the plans away – for free…so that those in need of the device could make them for themselves or have someone make it for them.
There are people around the globe – 3D printing fingers and hands for children they will never meet, classes of middle and high school students who are making these hands for people in their local communities, a group of people that are risking their lives to get these devices into 3rd World countries and new stories every day of parents and teachers working with their children to make a robo-hand together.
Spread the love
One of my New Year resolutions this year is to spread the word about this amazing company. It is my hope that all of the schools and libraries and scouting groups who have embraced the 3D printing revolution will reach out to this amazing not-for-profit company and utilize their resources in their educational programs.
If anyone knows someone who would benefit from a hand, they just need to fill out an intake form from the website and the match-making team will follow up with you and get the process started.
If you have the 3D Printers already, you can start with the new member form on their website. A member of the match-making team will contact you when they have located a nearby case that requires fabrication and they will guide you through the process.
One high school student was asked: “What does it feel like to know you have improved someone’s life – simply by doing a science and engineering project at school”?
The answer was: ” The feeling is definitely rewarding! Knowing that our team was able to accomplish the goal we set at the beginning of the course is truly amazing. Even more amazing is knowing that the recipient of our hand is happy and grateful with our school project!”
The organization to date has helped to build over 700 hands and in 2014 they grew from 20 members worldwide to over 3200 members. They have progressed from one basic design to over 10 new designs and there are many examples of students and teachers re- engineering and improving existing designs as they experiment and 3D Print their projects.
Enablingthefuture.org was listed this last year as one of the top searches by Google. Over a dozen schools so far have adopted e-Nable recipients and incorporated the development of 3D Printed hand designs into their school programs- not only changing the life of the child that received the hands- but also the children and teachers that helped to create them.
In December 2014, Nominet Trust announced that e-Nable has been named among the 2014 NT100 global list of 100 most inspiring ventures from around the world. Projects featured on this list are using technology to tackle some of the worlds most challenging social problems from education and human rights abuses to climate change and world health.
So, as 2015 gets underway- add a little compassion to your robotics program, establish a 3D printing Club, and start to “enable” your students to give the world a Helping Hand- one child at a time. (cost? Less than $50.00)
I would like to propose that February, 2015 be the Month of Helping Hands – so do your part to enable the children you work with and lets add EMPATHY and JOY to your S.T.E.A.M. programs.
For further information on 3D Printing or this “Magical” company, please reach out to Creative 3D Printing.
This article is dedicated to my dear friend Barry Shuman – who began the Community Action Committee in Great Neck South Middle School many years ago and to Linda Musmeci- who took it over when Barry Retired. Over the years they have made a huge impact on thousands of students, who in turn made many wonderful ripples in the ocean of life.