Car seats & air bags for eggs

Jun 22, 2007

Keeping kids safe and introducing the basics of Bio-Engineering to junior high students.

There was a lot of activity to pack into the longest day of the year at Kettering University. Car seat installation, air bags for eggs and simulated abdominal surgery were the order of the day June 21 when 20 car seat checkers were winding down their week-long training course and a group of 30 junior high school students from the Grand Rapids area schools were on campus to learn about Bio-Engineering. The junior high school students were part of the GRAPCEP Summer Experience (the Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program).

The car seat checker training, sponsored by Crash Survivors Network, Kettering University and Safe Kids Greater Flint, taught volunteer checkers how to choose the appropriate seat, check seats for damage and make sure they haven't been recalled They also learned how to install each type of seat in 10-20 different vehicles and make the best safety trade-offs when they have to place several children of various ages and needs in a vehicle. At the end of the four-day class they practiced their new skills by staffing a community seat check event at Kettering June 22.

The car seat checker training course was funded by grants from the State of Michigan and Takata, a multi-billion dollar Tier 1 supplier of automotive safety restraint systems (air bags and seat belts), electronics, and interior trim components.

The junior high students had lots of hands-on work too. They had to construct an air bag for an egg using just 10 sheets of notebook paper and clear tape. The eggs were dropped from three different height ladders, six feet, eight feet and 12 feet. As each egg survived a drop onto its "air bag," it graduated to the next height ladder.

Only one egg survived all three drops. The winning air bag design was created by Leya Woods and Duncan MacLeod. Their design consisted of a tall paper cylinder packed with crumpled paper to cushion the falling egg.

The students also had a chance to don surgical garb and sew up incisions in hot dogs with natural casings. They stitched both an exterior incision and an interior incision, such as those done laparoscopic surgeries. The laparoscopy was simulated by using a box with small holes cut in it to insert forceps and needles through.

Dr. Patrick Atkinson, professor of Mechanical Engineering, explained to the students that Bio-Engineers bridges the gap between Engineering and Medicine. He coordinated the Bio-Engineering workshop and is co-founder of the Crash Survivors Network (CSN) with his wife Dr. Theresa Atkinson.

State Farm Insurance donated money for the child seat training class including the community child seat check.

Facts about child safety seats:
Most parents and grandparents believe they are using child seats correctly, but more than 80 percent are using an inappropriate seat or have made a mistake installing it. When child seats are installed correctly they cut the risk of serious injury during a crash event by 50 to 70 percent. Attending a child seat check is a great way to learn how to use a seat correctly. Seat checks are not just for infants, bigger kids need to be in a car seat or booster seat until about age 8 (when they are 4'9"). Studies show booster seats reduce the injury risk by 60 percent versus when the child uses just the seat belt.

Written by Dawn Hibbard