Leavitt Middle School Repurposing Program, in “Cool at School”


On May 16th, Leavitt Middle School was awarded a grant of nearly 23,000 for the Gift of Imagination from the Rogers Foundation.

Teachers Jaime Neiry and Heather Nail used this grant to start a plastic repurposing center on campus. This center will allow the school to recycle plastic into filament for 3D printing. It will take students through the entire recycling and repurposing process as they recycle the plastic to reuse it when designing and printing 3D objects. 

Seventh grader, Keahilani Maneeraj, said, “I think it’s cool that a lot of kids get to have this kind of education to help them out with their life. They’re encouraging us to do more about what we want to do.”

This recycling and repurposing center will allow imaginative students to turn discarded plastic into all kinds of useful products – including violins, parts of a drone, and an orthotic hand!

One engineering class project involved delivering medicine with a repurposed drone. A topic one might typically think would be bantered about in an Amazon boardroom….taking flight in a Las Vegas schoolyard.

Student Brady Dickerson added, “We did an assignment where we had to make something totally from scratch, that we thought would work by drone, and then we tested it.”

It worked! The drone was able to fly, land, and drop off the medicine – with some of it’s parts made from repurposed plastic.

Other engineering students built a 3D printed orthotic hand for a young boy in Connecticut named Jake.

Seventh grader Andrew Cirincione told us how: “We had to model the different joints and ligaments and how those would function in a regular hand, and try to bring them into something that we could give to someone.”

This is hands-on, highly technical, cross-curricular, STEM-based learning….but it all begins on an open, imaginative path with student ideas. Principal Keith Wipperman looked to the future, “You hope the next Elon Musk is sitting in the room, and they’re thinking of a product or a project that’s going to be the next thing that’s going to save people and help people.”

Engineering Teacher Jamie Neiry summed up the present, “It all depends on what the kids imagine – whatever they imagine – we can create!”

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