Kids Design Their Own Prosthetics in ‘Superhero Cyborgs’ Workshop

“They can design for their own needs, which creates a beautiful closed-loop cycle where designer equals tester and end user.”

KIDMob co-founder Kate Ganim with Kieren, 13, who called his project the “Nubinator.”

With wearable devices, as with much of the world’s products, it’s one size fits all. Not necessarily in terms of the device’s physical dimensions, but in the way customization is sacrificed at the altar of the assembly line. The Bay Area-based organization KIDmob, a “mobile, kid-integrated design firm,” rejects this norm, holding workshops where kids build customized solutions to meet local needs. One of their more recent endeavors is Superhero Cyborgs, a workshop where kids—both with and without disabilities—design and build wearable devices that can serve as what KIDmob calls “a potential alternative to their upper limb prosthetics.”

From January 15 to 19, KIDMob and Autodesk teamed up for “Superhero Cyborgs 2.0” at Autodesk’s Pier 9 design space. There, six kids created their own “superpowers” through personalized wearable devices. Working alongside professional designers and engineers, the kids learned about 3D modeling and digital fabrication, from the CAD process to 3D printing.

13-year-old David learns Autodesk’s Fusion 360 CAD software to model his wearable prototype.

In “Project Unicorn,” 10-year-old Jordan Reeves created a five-nozzle glitter shooter for her arm. David Botana, age 13, created “Sport Splint,” a purple splint with modular attachments for a Nerf gun device and a horse-riding attachment, which allows him to hold onto the reins. Looking to beat her siblings in water gun fights, 12-year-old Sydney Howard created a dual-water-gun arm activated by elbow movement. Kieran Blue Coffee, who is 13, created the “Nubinator,” an e-NABLE hand that he tricked out with LED lights and an aluminum attachment that allows him to carry heavier loads. And 10-year-old Riley Gonzalez augmented an e-NABLE prosthetic with a detachable bow and arrow.

“One of the main motivations for the work we do is exposing kids (and adults) to ‘21st-century skills’ in a meaningful way,” Kate Ganim, KIDMob co-founder and co-director, tells GOOD. “Design is creative problem solving—it is bringing ideas to reality. Our workshops are very active, with lots of improv, hands-on making, discussion and sharing, and playful discovery.”

Sean Boatright, a professional prosthetist, discusses the fit of Jordan’s wearable prototype.

“The kids had a blast [and] all took ownership over their individual body mods, and were excited enough about the work they did to confidently and articulately share their work and experience in front of a group of 40-plus unknown adults at Pier 9,” she adds. “The parents were mostly amazed that the kids were able to learn and do so much in such a short time frame, and excited that they were exposed to such cutting-edge tools and software.”

One of Ganim’s favorite moments was when Riley Gonzalez was troubleshooting a prototype that used an e-NABLE hand as a base. One of the workshop facilitators, Andreas Bastian, realized he already had a device assembled that was similar to Riley’s, along with some random parts.

The initial sketches and ideation of “Project Unicorn,” a five-nozzle glitter shooter by 10-year-old Jordan

“For the sake of time, we [told] Riley that he could use the fully assembled device and build off of that, adding attachments, etc.,” Ganim says. “His response was ‘Is it ok if I use the other parts instead? This one is already a finished product, I’d rather design my own!’ Could not have been more proud he chose that route!”

Autodesk, a company that builds computer-aided drafting software, became involved with Superhero Cyborgs 2.0 after two of its former interns, Phume Mthimunye and Maya Kremien (graduate students at the California College of the Arts), joined the workshop. After reading the proposal, Sarah O’Rourke, Audodesk’s senior product marketing manager for consumer and 3D printing, says that the decision to get involved was a “no-brainer.” Autodesk provided financial support to the families for travel and housing and made their Pier 9 space available for the workshop.

Sydney with her dual-water-gun wearable prior to the final presentation

“The participants started with an introduction to 3D design and 3D modeling with Tinkercad, a free browser-based CAD tool, for an introduction to 3D printing,” O’Rourke tells GOOD. “During the second day, the students created a casting of their limbs, then had the opportunity to use a 3D scanner and modify a custom 3D cuff with Fusion 360. It was great to see the kids start using these tools and have the facilitators show them where they could go over time.”

Even though the workshop is over, Ganim says KIDMob has “buddied” each kid with a professional designer for the next three months or so. The idea is that the pairs can keep developing their prototypes in collaboration, but with the kids still driving the design process. Autodesk will also keep supporting the participants with tools and resources.

The final presentation, on day five of the workshop, in which the participants presented their prototypes

O’Rourke hopes this is just the start of a relationship with KIDMob for future Superhero Cyborg workshops. They’re also discussing how to package the workshop into a curriculum for teachers to access at Project Ignite, Autodesk’s open learning platform, and then bring it into classrooms.

“If we can inspire any of the participants to start thinking like a designer and empower them to create their own devices, then that is successful,” says O’Rourke.

Ganim’s hope is that the kids come away from the workshop realizing that they can create and implement ideas that change the world, while gaining tools, skills, and confidence.

“Kids will hopefully realize that they’re not beholden to whatever devices are available on the market,” Ganim says. “They can design for their own needs, which creates a beautiful closed-loop cycle where designer equals tester and end user.”

Sean Boatright, a professional prosthetist, helps Sydney design her “dual-water-gun wearable”

Jordan with her prototype for “Project Unicorn,” a five-nozzle glitter shooter

The sketches of Riley’s e-NABLE hand with detachable bow and arrow

via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

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"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

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Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

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