Kettering University students brought a childhood memory alive when they created a giant Lite Brite for a local school.
Students with Kettering’s Student Association for Global Engineering (SAGE) created a 6-foot wide, 4-foot tall Lite Brite for Genesee Intermediate School District’s Marion Crouse Instructional Center (MCIC) to be used in the school’s sensory room.
“I thought it was a cool project for us to get involved in. I hadn’t seen a Lite Brite since I was a kid. When I heard that they wanted a giant one I thought it would be a fun project, something a little different than we usually do,” said Kas Waitkus ‘20, former president of SAGE. “It was so satisfying to see it working. I was very happy to see that the project was complete and off to the school. They seemed excited to have it. I really hope they enjoy it and get a lot of use of it there.”
The students researched plans and made the Lite Brite from scratch during A and B Sections. Kettering University and MCIC have worked together on various projects during the last six years. Previous projects include 3D printing a specialized part for a wheelchair and developing a sensory box.
“This is a great example of local students doing something to benefit other area students,” said Susan O’Brien, principal at GISD’s MCIC. “I visited The Children's Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, South Carolina with my grandchildren and saw a giant Lite Brite. I thought it would be a great addition to our sensory room. We reached out to Laura Sullivan, Faculty Advisor to Kettering’s Student Association for Global Engineering. I want to thank the staff and students at Kettering for partnering with us to make this idea a reality.”
When Megan Harlow ‘18 heard that A-Section SAGE students had started the Lite Brite project, she knew she wanted to jump at the opportunity to get B-Section involved, too. She remembered when she had a Lite Brite as a kid.
“I’d spend hours putting together diamond shaped patterns and other geometrical shapes that would fill each side of the cube. It was really fun to be able to draw on the fun that I had with my Lite Brite as a kid as inspiration for continuing this project. I'm sure that the the Lite Brite is going to bring a lot of children a lot of joy,” said Harlow, B-Section SAGE president. “I know the children are going to love it because of both its colors and size.”
A Kettering alumna even gave a helping hand when the students needed a little extra assistance. Jennifer Johnson '99, executive director of strategy at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, volunteered to help the SAGE group when they realized they didn’t have the equipment to cut such a large sheet of acrylic without the risk of cracking. Johnson and her colleagues transported the materials to their facilities in Holland, Mich., and took care of the machining the acrylic sheet and cutting long acrylic bars down to pegs.
"The Yanfeng Automotive Interiors team looks forward to unique opportunities to serve our partners in education and in community building," Johnson said. "Our team in Holland, Michigan, jumped at the opportunity to provide our skills and tools to support the construction of the Lite Brite. And now we plan to build one for our team, too."
The Kettering students were full of pride and excitement when school officials finally received the Lite Brite, Waitkus said.
The giant Lite Brite will help improve the development and increase the creativity of students with special needs at MCIC.
“I think the favorite moment when building the Lite Brite was when we first turned on the LED lights after installing them. Without the acrylic sheets in the front of the box, the four LED ballast lights were incredibly bright. It was a really fun moment. It was also a moment of pride as our team was able to come together and really see the project take shape,” Harlow said.