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Liberty Junior Student Engineers Tackle Football Team’s COVID-19 Challenge

The Liberty Junior School football team had a problem - one that Doug Noxsel’s Design & Modeling students weren’t afraid to tackle, even if it was just their first full week in the new class. 

Despite his best efforts to make the team water cooler completely touchless in light of current COVID-19 precautions, Coach Hamilton still had no way for his student-athletes to refill their bottles during practice. The alternate valve that he purchased may have kept students from touching the same release button, but still required each water bottle to repeatedly touch the same surface. 

“We haven’t had much time to even get through all the steps of the design process, but I knew they’d be up for the challenge,” Noxsel said. He presented the problem to a small group of his students, three of which dedicated two full days of their advisory period - a time during the school day designed for remediation and enrichment - to finding a solution. 

Seventh-graders Jackson Barth, Danika Sanders and Isabella Carmack immediately set to work with the first and only step in the design process they had discussed in class so far: generating concepts. “I’ve always liked to make things and I come from a family who does a lot of ‘do it yourself’ type projects,” said Barth, who as a football player, was also excited to work on a project that he and his teammates would directly benefit from. 

After discussing many different ideas, they eventually used foam board and cardboard to build their prototype. They built the final pieces out of an antimicrobial material that they explained wasn’t as porous - and therefore was more sanitary - than the filament used for 3D printing. 

Their final product consisted of a foot pedal that connected to an adjustable rope that when tightened, opened the water valve. They also created a shield to help keep the water bottles from touching the valve. 

“I love being able to be so hands-on in a class and I learned that there are so many different ways you can solve a problem,” Sanders said. 

The trio is now adapting their design to make it usable in the school’s gymnasium, where even more of their classmates will benefit from it. 


  • COVID19
  • relationship building