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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Shalhevet Student Creates 3D-Printed iPad Accessory

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“I definitely wanted to somewhat represent I was Jewish if I was going to be on TV and be in the public eye.” 

So said 16-year-old Samson Taxon after he appeared last month on KTLA’s morning news to discuss the iPad accessory he made using a 3D printer.

Wearing a yarmulke imprinted with the name of his school, Shalhevet High, the junior spoke with KTLA tech reporter Rich DeMuro about his invention called GRP, which keeps the wireless Apple pencil fastened to the iPad Pro.

The pencil was designed to magnetically attach to the tablet, but users have found that it doesn’t always stay put. So Samson designed a stick-on grip made of bioplastic and adhesive. As he prepared to put the $10 accessory on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, his mother reached out to KTLA asking if the station wanted to do a segment on her son. She got an email back asking to have him on.

“We scheduled a time and went to the studio,” Samson told the Journal. “It was a really great experience.”

On the first day of the Kickstarter campaign, 512 backers pledged more than $5,200 for the gadget. 

“I’ve always been interested in making things, understanding how things work, tearing things apart,” Samson said. “My grandfather was an electrical engineer. I learned about 3D printing when I was 10 years old.”

“I definitely wanted to somewhat represent I was Jewish if I was going to be on TV and be in the public eye.”
— Samson Taxon 

Even back then, he said, “I thought [3D printing] was cool. You did not have to fabricate plastic parts with hand tools; you could design the prototype on a computer and have it made within a couple of hours. It’s a cool emerging industry and technology.”

GRP isn’t Samson’s first invention. In seventh grade, he created an iPhone game, “Piggy Plane,” which is available in the Apple app store. 

And last year, he created the app StudySam, featuring an animated character named Sam who helps students study. He entered the app into the Congressional App Challenge and won first place in his congressional district. An in-person meeting with Rep. Ted Lieu followed.

“He’s a tinkerer,” Nick said. “He loves to do anything mechanical, to take things apart, and he is kind of self-taught in respect to 3D printing and coding.”

Samson wants to put some of the money he’s earned from GRP back into the community to encourage others to develop their tech and coding skills. As captain of the robotics team at Shalhevet, he plans to mentor inner-city school students to help them develop their robotics programs.

Along with prepping for robotics season at school, Samson also wants to create a larger 3D printer and continue improving his technology skills. His most recent innovation was a mostly 3D-printed gaming console for his younger brother, designing the circuitry around an open-sourced microcomputer.

“I definitely want to pursue making things new and innovative,” Samson said. “I don’t know if it will manifest itself in 3D printing, but having those skills helps me create new things. I definitely want a future of creating something new.”

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