STEM student helps create doll with cochlear implants for special little girl

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OKLAHOMA — From a distance, the doll looks like any other, but then again, so does 6-year-old Harper.

“What does she have on her head that you have?”

“A hair bow,” Harper replies.

“No, look at her ears.”

Up close, something stands out.

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,” said Harper’s aunt, Lindsey Sanders.

American Girl makes hearing aids for dolls, but it’s not quite the same thing. That’s when Sanders looked to the kids in the STEM program at Choctaw High School.

Will Archer, who’s on his way to MIT next year, had the answer.

“I knew my sister had one, 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 a 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 on there perfectly.”

He also made a second set fit for a larger doll.

Sanders said 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.”

But Archer said this is his proudest work yet.

“Someone is using it. it’s not just statues.”

As for Harper, she’s thrilled with her new doll.

“Now I have a doll just like me.”


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