Creating a Solution for the Dilution
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NISD STEM Academy Students: Creating a Solution for the Dilution
Posted on 11/05/2020
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student by printers

Are your small “squirts” of watery hand sanitizer landing everywhere but on your hands?  You are not alone, according to students enrolled in Northwest ISD’s 
STEM Academy

“Our students kept noticing large messes on the ground near the sanitizer bottle,” said Casey Helmick, STEM Coordinator at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  “And often, sanitizer sprayed out onto your pants or shoes. It was a mess!”

With NISD campuses offering face-to-face learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district provided many tools to ensure students and staff were safe and hands were sanitized.  One of the necessary items was a large hand sanitizer bottle for every classroom, shared space, office, and entryway.

“When we returned to campus from remote learning in September, we discovered giant bottles of hand sanitizer for our classrooms and offices,” Helmick said. “Unfortunately, the larger the bottle, the larger the nozzle – so we immediately had hands full of sanitizer instead a small amount.”

Realizing the bottles were dispensing too much sanitizer— and with guidance from NISD STEM teacher Mrs. Kim Garrett students began to fabricate a solution.   Soon after, the "sanitizer limiter" was created and designed in product development software called Inventor.  Once the prototype was finalized, students were able to modify and test print on the academy’s updated Dremel 3D printer.

student on computer

“The limiters are restricting the amount of hand sanitizer that is expelled from the nozzle,” said Helmick.  “This not only prevents too much sanitizer from being used which is wasteful — but also limits the pressure of the sanitizer coming out of the nozzle.  This then prevents the mess on the floor, table, or your pants.”

The limiter clips around the pump tube and prevents the pump from being pushed all the way down - limiting the amount of sanitizer that is released.  Academy students coined the social media hashtag #SmallSquirt and the need for limiters quickly became apparent.  Sanitizer limiters are now being utilized across 12 NISD campuses and beyond.

student installing limiter

“The Inventor CAD file was shared with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) middle school teachers throughout NISD and other teachers across the country,” Helmick said.  “Our students are hoping their creation will help other schools with the same problem.”

On average, each limiter costs $.10 or less to print. The cost effectiveness of the 3-D print filament allows students to make multiple iterations of their product as they change and adjust to solve the problem at hand.

“3D printing allows STEM students to design and model their innovations,” said Helmick.  “Our students have been able to create solutions for a variety of problems using the 3D printers. As our students are learning industry standard software skills, being able to visualize the design because of a 3D print is a great way for students to hone their skills.”

For additional information regarding NISD's STEM Academy, please visit their website.

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