Meet Griffin Bonner. He's 13 years old, and in the 7th grade at a private Quaker school in Baltimore, Maryland. He also has Type 1 diabetes. And some very big ideas about how to improve on the products he uses every day to treat his illness.
His clever Safe Tube design was the winner of the Kids' Category in this year's DiabetesMine Design Challenge:
Here's what Griffin had to say about the creative process:
"I had the idea right before Spring Break, and I then just recently built it. I have a bunk bed, with a pole that sticks up to keep it elevated. The (pump) tubing caught in that and ripped right out -- a bunch of times. My friends also ripped it out a few times by accident.
My first idea was for an oval ring, like the shape of a race track, to wrap the tubing around. But then I saw my dad's (retractable) key reels, that he has for work, and that looks like it works better... Then I realized it's hard to make that work because something would have to spin it, and you wouldn't be able to unroll it so quickly.
Then I had the idea for a liquid rosary joint. That looks like 2 quarters stuck together, the little one with insulin in it...
The SafeTube design now has two tubes -- one that connects the pump to you, and one that connects SafeTube to the pump. The pump one is small and doesn't expand. The one that goes out to your body is expandable. It's the idea of a seatbelt rachet; if you jerk on it, it pulls and retracts."
Whoa! Who is this junior engineer, and how soon can we hire him to take on other diabetes design challenges?!
Turns out Griffin's dad is robotic engineer (go figure) and his mom is a graphic designer. He also has a 6-year-old sister, and many supportive friends who march the local JDRF walk with him every year to raise money for the cause. He was diagnosed in September 2007, right before a three-day school camping trip. "Leading up to it I had been going to bathroom a ton. The day before the trip, my mom took me to the doctor, and then we went to the hospital. I never made it to the camping trip, but I didn't get as sick as some people do when they're diagnosed," Griffin says.
He would very much like to see the SafeTube realized as a commercial product, but he's not sure he can deal with the complicated patent issues, etc. Any companies out there interested in taking on his idea?
Meanwhile, what will Griffin do with the award money?
"If it's not required to use it for creating the product, I'd like to buy a laptop," he says.
A great idea to help him create many future designs, I say. "Mac or PC?"
"Oh, definitely Mac!!" he laughs.
"So with a mind like that, do you want to be an engineer like your dad?" I ask.
"I'm not sure," Griffin says. "I kind of want to be a doctor ... I want to help people."