Ames Girl Receives Doll With Cochlear Implants For Christmas
CHOCTAW, Oklahoma - A few Choctaw high school students are changing the life of a little girl with hearing disabilities this Christmas.
Six-year-old Harper has had cochlear implants since she was one. She loves playing with dolls, but they never quite looked like her, despite her family's efforts.
“They said they just couldn’t really make an accessory for every disability, and so we had to take a different route,” says aunt Lindsey Sanders.
American Girl makes hearing aids for dolls, which is not quite the same thing. “There’s a magnet that connects to my head,” explains Harper.
Sanders, a teacher, looked to the kids kids in the STEM program at East Oklahoma County Tech Center, which utilizes a 3D printer.
Senior Will Archer, who will attend MIT next year, had the answer. “I knew my sister had one,” he says of the American Girl doll Sanders was looking to purchase, “so I came home and borrowed it from her the next day and brought it to school and then we used a caliper to measure the ears.”
Despite getting some funny looks as he carried the doll to school, Archer used his spare time to input the design in the 3D printer, which laid down the plastic in layers to match the dimensions. “After it was printed we did sanding and filing to make it fit on there perfectly,” he says.
He also made a second set fit for a larger doll. Sanders says she was blown away with the result. “I don’t know that every high school boy is willing to say, oh yes let me make a doll accessory for someone I don’t even know,” says Sanders.
Archer, though, says this is his proudest work yet compared to the figurines of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower he made previously. “Someone is using it,” he says. “It’s not just statues.”
Harper plans to cherish her new doll for years to come. “Now I have a doll just like me,” she says.