December 28, 2015

The InvenTeam received a very exciting gift this Holiday season. December 22nd was a landmark build session: our engineers produced our first working HANDL prototype!  Right now, HANDL has the capability to open our school’s three-number combination dial lockers.  This recent success relied on our engineers making two major breakthroughs.  First, using our 3D printer, our engineers successfully developed a connection piece that precisely fits our locker dials.  This means HANDL is able to connect and physically turn the combination dial by engaging the dial’s grooves. Second, our engineers have refined our Arduino program that controls the stepper motor. The program tells the motor the locker combination, and therefore how far to turn in each direction.  This program allows variable inputs, meaning that we can enter any combination into our motor to open the locker. Check it out:



Coming up, our engineers are researching multiple battery ideas to determine which would be most efficient spatially and energy-wise to power HANDL’s motor and motherboard.  We are also in the beginning processes of designing the outer-shell of our device.  Additionally, MSU RAIND (Research in Autism, Intellectual and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) is interested in our project.  We will be meeting with engineering professors and graduate students over break to discuss our progress and challenges we have identified.

3D Printed Connection Piece3D Printed Connection PieceJess and Kepler designing the connection pieceJess and Kepler designing the connection pieceWorking on programmingWorking on programmingWorking with a lock and our stepper motorWorking with a lock and our stepper motor

Keeping in the holiday spirit, our InvenTeam partnered with the Williamston Schools Foundation to participate in the Williamston Holiday Light Parade on December 5th.  We spent a fun Friday night decorating a light-filled float displaying the InvenTeam banners. During the parade, two of our team members rode in the float, while others passed out goody bags filled with information about HANDL, donation cards, and, most importantly, candy.  We had a great experience interacting with the community and sharing information about our mission with Project HANDL.

Anna and Emma passing out goody bagsAnna and Emma passing out goody bagsFloat BuildingFloat BuildingJohn and Garrett at the Light ParadeJohn and Garrett at the Light ParadeJustin and Kepler on the floatJustin and Kepler on the floatThe parade team!The parade team!

Our InvenTeam also had our first formal presentation opportunity when we presented to the Williamston Rotary Club on December 15th.  This was a great chance to explain our inspiration for HANDL, our design for and progress in our prototype, and especially our fundraising efforts for EurekaFest.  Anna, Robert, and Jess did an awesome job creating a detailed presentation and delivering our message well.  We are very grateful for the club’s welcoming attitude, support, and hospitality.

Our team at the Rotary Club presentationOur team at the Rotary Club presentationRobert, Anna, and Jess presentingRobert, Anna, and Jess presenting

We also have several other fundraising projects in progress.  Our team sent out letters to friends and family to ask for their help in financing our trip to EurekaFest.  This campaign has gone well and we hope to continue to receive support.  We have also started a fundraising effort at Williamston Varsity Basketball games by setting up an informational table at each home game.  This is another opportunity to interact with the community and raise awareness and support for our project.

Additionally, we are planning presentations to the Williamston Lions Club and Williamston School Board, along with a fundraiser at a local Williamston diner.  We are looking forward to sharing information about Project HANDL and working on our presentation skills.  We are also very excited to have Tony Perry, the Invention Education Associate at Lemelson-MIT Program, visit on January 12th.  While he is here, we will talk to him about our progress in creating HANDL, show him our workrooms and materials, and ask and answer questions.  Finally, we have the opportunity to meet our neighboring InvenTeam in Stockbridge when we attend their Mid-Grant Technical Review.  We are excited to be able to support the team and their project!

2015 has been a life-changing year for the Williamston InvenTeam, from applying for and receiving our grant to beginning our work on Project HANDL.  We are even more excited for what 2016 has to bring as we advance in the production of HANDL, plan for the Mid-Grant Technical Review, and continue fundraising for (and counting-down to!) EurekaFest.

Be sure to check out our December highlight video below - and Happy New Year from the Williamston InvenTeam!

December Video: