It was almost this time last year when a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire on students and staff in what has gone down in history as the second deadliest school shooting by a single person in American history (Virginia Tech still tops the list.) After the Sandy Hook horror, safety in schools was thrown into the national spotlight, with some calling for tighter gun control laws and others seeking to arm teachers and school staff for protection. Amidst all of this fighting, a group of students in Washington D.C. came up with their own solution - a $15 lock that could be installed quickly on the classroom door to keep out anyone trying to harm students.
As in most schools around the country, the classroom doors at Benjamin Banneker High School cannot be locked from the inside. This is a fire code regulation meant to ensure quick and easy escape for the students in the event of a fire. But it also leaves the students terribly vulnerable when an intruder enters the school - as was the case in Sandy Hook.
"So many kids and adults were killed (at Sandy Hook). So we got together and we wanted to know how we could stop intruders from entering our school," said Deonté Antrom, a junior at Benjamin Banneker, in an interview with NBC News.
So Antrom, along with fellow students at Benjamin Banneker, brainstormed ways to prevent an intruder from entering the classroom. The result was DeadStop, a lightweight device that locks around the closed arm-like hydraulic hinge at the top of the school's classroom doors. Their earliest prototype was made from PVC pipe and a nail. But they wanted to make it stronger and easier for teachers and students everywhere to use. So they applied for a grant to further develop their idea.
MIT liked their concept so much, the school gave the students a $6,600 grant to develop it.
A law firm from Denver has already offered the team pro bono services to patent the invention. When completed, the new prototype will be made of metal. Students estimate that individual units will sell for around $15. Their hope is that they can be kept in teachers desks nationwide. And that there will never be a need to use them.