Students Provide Engineering Solutions in Seniors Helping Seniors Project
May 9, 2019 - Livermore, CA - In this era of exponential leaps in technological advances, it often seems that inventions are intended for the newest generation by default; but students in the Livermore High School (LHS) Green Engineering Academy (GEA) have made a priority of ensuring members of previous generations are benefitting from their engineering knowledge and innovation.
On April 25th, GEA seniors presented innovative solutions to challenges shared by residents of the Watermark at Rosewood Gardens retirement community at the annual Inventor’s Fair. This event – the culmination of the GEA’s “Seniors Helping Seniors” project – represents a contribution to the community of students’ skills, ideas, and novel engineering solutions developed over four years in the GEA.
Students’ inventions included bocce ball court renovations, a springboard seat to help residents raise themselves up from their chairs, and a multimedia newspaper rack. The top three projects – evaluated by volunteer judges, and awarded trophies – were a hospital bed step attachment, in first place; the “Easy Squeezy Toothpaste Dispenser,” in second; and an easy-turn lamp knob, in third.
Every project served as a showcase for the students’ passion for engineering, but also for their attention to the needs of their community. Students were particularly cognizant of the elegance of concept and safety of their projects, ensuring ease-of-use and simple solutions for residents. “The things these kids come up with are really amazing,” said Stephanie Goodyear, Community Life Director at Rosewood. “They really listened to what the residents had to say.”
The inventors, when explaining their projects, always began by detailing their conversations with the residents and what they noticed about how the residents lived. They were especially interested in giving residents more opportunities to socialize, participate in activities, and live comfortably. As students learned more about the residents and developed relationships, they discovered additional ways to help beyond their projects. One group even decided to design a putting green, completely separate from the Inventor’s Fair projects.
In incorporating empathy into their designs, students produced remarkable innovations that reflected the aptitude of both their minds and their hearts gained throughout their educational experience. The GEA is a four-year cohort program that focuses on environmentally conscious engineering curriculum and partnerships in the community. The Seniors Helping Seniors project speaks to the GEA’s careful attention to the community as its students learn to think about how to improve their world through skills practiced in their classes.