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Eighth-Grade Students Design 3D-Printed Wheelchair for Blind Kitten

Photo: raycatdashian on Instagram


Eighth-Grade Students Design 3D-Printed Wheelchair for Blind Kitten

When you have nine lives, it’s probably to be expected that you won’t be dealt the best hand in at least one of them.

That appears to be the case for Ray the kitten, who was born with abnormally small eyes that have left him blind.

An inoperable spinal disorder also means Ray cannot use his back legs to walk.

Despite this, Ray is doing well.

Very well.

His owner, Carrie Barron, told WGME-TV that Ray “does have a lot of challenges but he doesn’t know that. He’s very happy. He plays and he’s really well-adjusted.”

She added that Ray “is not paralyzed. He can feel his legs but he can’t move them in the motion to walk. He can move them though to scoot, so he does scoot around the house really well.”

However, Erin Bakkom, a neighbor of Carrie’s in Portsmouth, N.H., wanted to help Ray do more than scoot, or crawl, around.

Erin, who has also adopted cats from the Odd Cat Sanctuary in Salem, Mass. that Carrie adopted Ray from, is a local middle school teacher.

Knowing there was a 3D printer at the public library, she came up with a unique project for her eighth-grade students: a wheelchair for Ray.

With everything organized and the use of the machine secured, Carrie brought Ray into school to meet the students and get measured up for his new rims.

One class, which included student Austin Snow, designed a two-wheel version, while another came up with a four-wheeled idea.

Ray has already outgrown both prototypes.

Snow didn’t seem to mind.

“It wasn’t that hard to design,” he said.

The project is benefitting the students just as much as it is Ray.

Carrie even pointed out that Ray doesn’t really ‘need’ the wheelchair because he does so well at dragging himself around.

That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be warmly received, of course, although she added, “I think he would use it more for fun.”

For the students, the project has been a memorable way to learn not just about 3D printing, but on overcoming the hurdles life throws at us too.

“We’re now looking into the school getting grants for 3D printers because we see the possibilities for them,” said Erin.

“We have kids that face challenges and I think that’s an opportunity for them to see you know maybe it isn’t such an obstacle and it’s just a different way to approach it.”

So while the plan was initially for the students to help Ray, it appears Ray has been quietly helping them too in his own special way.

You can follow Ray’s progress on his Instagram account at @raycatdashian

via WGME | Video from WGME

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