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Brookwood School 3D printed hand work featured at Google Conference

Brookwood School eighth grade science teacher Rich Lehrer and his son Max ’25 spent three exciting days in Mountain View, CA, as presenters and participants at Google’s I/O Youth Conference May 16 to 18. A precursor to the industry giant’s wildly successful annual Global I/O Conference, the Youth Conference focuses on kids and education, and includes the launch and testing of new Google technology for children.

Rich says being surrounded by the most cutting edge tech and programs that Google is developing was inspiring. He added that Brookwood was present throughout the conference. “I learned that what we’re doing here at Brookwood is being recognized globally – that was confirmed,” Rich says. “I had dozens of conversations about what we are doing here and the reaction was always the same … people saying, ‘That’s unbelievable.’”

Rich presented work he does with Brookwood's Global Leadership group, using 3-D printers and open-source models to create affordable prosthetic hands for those in need. The presentation was part of the Design workshop, one of four comprising the event (others included robotics, digital storytelling and programming). Max uses one of the devices and his bright green hand drew loads of interest from adults and children at the conference.

“I spoke about Max, I spoke about the 3D printed hand and showed the progression of the devices our kids have been building using the same techniques that any engineer does,” Rich says. “I also spoke about e-NABLE and how they use the design process in a completely open source way.” Organized by Rochester Institute of Technology professor Jon Schull, e-NABLE is a global network of volunteers creating prosthetic hands. As greater numbers of educators contacted e-NABLE about participating in the effort with their students, the eNABLE Educators' Exchange was created and Rich was brought on to head-up the initiative because of his work at Brookwood.

Besides demonstrating his hand for students and adults, Max had his own unique role at the conference. While corresponding with Rich before the conference, Google’s Andy Russell asked if Max would like to work with one of Google’s design apps currently in development and then share his experience at I/O Youth. He sent the Lehrers the app, which Max eagerly devoted his time to learning. Then at the conference, Max and his designs were part of Andy’s presentation of the app.  Max answered questions and then assisted the students in attendence who were given the chance to try the app.

“Andy and Max talked about Max having learned the app. Andy showed the kids some of the designs Max had done and then had Max talk a little bit about what he had designed as inspiration for the kids,” Rich says. “Max became a little authority on this and at the workshop he was billed as sort of the youngest authority on this new program.”

Watch an ABC news clip about the conference featuring Rich and Max.

The invitation to present at Google’s I/O Conference came out of Rich’s long time role as advisor for Design Squad Global, a program which connects 10-13 year-old youth from around the world through collaborative engineering projects. The multimedia platform on PBSKIDS designed to increase kids’ understanding of engineering through design challenges, games, and streaming videos has also provided Brookwood the opportunity to share what we are doing with the world. A recent video features Brookwood graduate Wes D'Alelio '14 showcasing a 3D-printed hand that he designed for Max.

(Pictured above, left to right, Google's Andy Russell, Max L. '25, Rich Lehrer)