Oak Harbor High School senior Logan Ince measures an arm cuff for 4-year-old Michaela Reed to help her steer a modified bike. (Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times)

Oak Harbor High School senior Logan Ince measures an arm cuff for 4-year-old Michaela Reed to help her steer a modified bike. (Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times)

A bicycle for Michaela

Oak Harbor High School robotics team puts skills to work for little girl

Michaela Reed’s “lucky fin” might be different than her peers, but it certainly doesn’t slow her down.

Thursday afternoon, the 4-year-old deftly navigated an obstacle course of stools in the hallway of Oak Harbor High School with her new bike. Onlookers included her mother, Amanda Reed, and members of the high school robotics and the Home Connection Lego robotics teams.

The groups worked on pieces to outfit the bike optimally for Michaela, said Che Edoga, robotics team facilitator.

“I think that’s probably the most fulfilling stuff,” Edoga said of watching her successfully use the bike.

Michaela’s left arm, what she calls her “lucky fin,” ends just past her elbow. She loves to go camping and biking with her grandparents, so her grandfather attached a plastic cup and cutout piece of a pool noodle with tape.

The device allowed her to keep her arm on the handlebar, but she still had trouble steering.

Although Edoga described the method as “surprisingly effective,” he thought maybe the robotics team could step in.

The Wildcats FIRST Robotics team had already modified a small bike and prosthetic for another girl, but lost contact with the family before she could use it. When Amanda and Trevor Reed, who both are teachers in the school district, mentioned to Edoga that maybe the team could help their daughter, he put the students to work.

A student used a 3D scanner to create a model of Michaela Reed’s arm for the prosthetic arm attachment to the bike.

Edoga said it was challenging to come up with a method for attaching the arm to the handle bars without creating a dangerous situation for the rider. Eventually, they settled on a battery-powered electromagnetic lock and release system that is activated by a switch on the right handlebar.

The students have been working on the design since November, and there are still some adjustments that need to be made. Thursday the Home Connection students, who helped make the molds that fit the arm to the handle bar, watched Michaela and suggested ways to make the bike more effective.

Wildcat robotics member Logan Ince also chimed in, and they decided to adjust the size of the arm cuff to make it easier for her to turn.

Michaela sat calmly on her bike as students surrounded her, measured her arms and discussed ways to improve the design.

“She really just goes with the flow,” Amanda Reed said.

Michaela wore purple-tinted safety glasses, which she called her “night-vision” goggles and her shirt read “I have a limb difference. What’s your superpower?” Amanda said her daughter sometimes asks questions about her arm, but she’s very good at adapting.

“I like to bike,” said Michaela.

“I like that I get to pedal.”

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

More in Life

Coupeville Library staff digs in to solve photo mysteries

Let’s say you find a box of a few hundred old photos… Continue reading

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times
                                Captain Whidbey Inn bartender Aaron Bloom mixes a specialty cocktail as part of the Christmas pop-up Miracle. As part of the inn’s holiday-themed events, community members are invited to help decorate the tree in the lobby, a revival of an old tradition.
Christmas spirit flows at historic inn

The Captain Whidbey Inn might be under relatively new ownership, but this… Continue reading

Downtown Oak Harbor lights up for the holiday season

The rain let up just in time for Santa’s arrival. The Oak… Continue reading

She makes a village

With a click of a button, Tammy Butler’s living room comes bursting… Continue reading

Hitchcocks celebrate 50th wedding anniversary

Martha “Marty” and Robert James Hitchcock recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. For… Continue reading

Gallery presenting holiday show

During December, Artworks Gallery at Greenbank Farm is presenting a group show… Continue reading

A wild card: South Whidbey resident ventures into tarot reading

Gerry Reed does not look like a stereotypical tarot card reader. A… Continue reading

Photographer Paul Lischeid captured this image of an osprey on Whidbey Island.
Ospreys are not your typical raptor, according to speaker

By RON NEWBERRY Special to the News-Times Michelle Landis has worked with… Continue reading

Oak Harbor police are guests of honor at academy’s ‘friendsgiving’ feast

What “friendsgiving” is complete without green eggs and ham? Luckily, Timmy Aston,… Continue reading

Whidbey Clay Center throwing an open house

Anyone who has ever wanted to learn how to make a ceramic… Continue reading

Ryan’s House serves as ‘stepping stone’ for young formerly homeless woman

At age 21, Victoria Brown was preparing to leave a drug rehabilitation… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Anna Cosper
                                An example of one of Anna Cosper’s holiday cards.
Langley illustrator taking commissions for the holidays

Langley illustrator Anna Cosper likes to joke that she’s been drawing since… Continue reading