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Davynne Atanasoff, My Very First Markers, 2/13/2012

1. Starting Project- My Very First Markers.

Having an incorrect utensil hold can result in weakness of various hand muscles. Learning to hold the utensil when first learning to write or color is usually the corporate in forming the bad habit of holding the utensil incorrectly. Occupational therapists spend much of their time reteaching children how to write and color holding the utensil correctly. The aim of this project is to provide a marker that can only be held the correct way. This marker will be designed in a way that eliminates thumb wrap and fist grip while holding the marker. Advertising this marker as the first markers children should own will prevent them from ever developing the bad habit of holding the marker incorrectly. If the bad habit is never formed than that will be one less thing that occupational therapists will have to work on and they will be able to use their time on other problems.

2. Statement of the Problem

The problem stated above is too specific and does not define the underlying problem of holding the marker incorrectly. The general problem for why utensils are held incorrectly is weak hand muscles.

Goal One: To help individual develop strong hand muscles so that they are more able to hold utensils correctly.

Goal Two: Develop a marker that encourages correct grip on the marker.

3. Separate

Breaking the problem apart and separating the causes of weak hand muscles and incorrect grip will let me analyze each component of the problem.

Lack of "Tummy Time."- Babies need to spend a lot of their time playing on their stomachs. This allows them to put weight on their hand and spread their fingers. This type of play also helps babies develop their arm muscles. However, parents are the ones who decide how long their child should be left on their stomach. Because this is such a variable problem, it will not be addressed.

Crawling. Crawling is one of the best things that babies can do to prepare themselves for holding various objects. Crawling forces the child to put quite a bit of weight on their hands, causing their fingers to spread apart to stabilize themselves.

Sadly, a lot of parents want their child to be ahead of the game and encourage their child to walk as soon as possible. Children who walk early miss this opportunity to really strengthen their hand muscles. Unfortunately, children mature and learn to walk at all different ages. Since we cannot force a child to stay crawling, this issue will not be addressed.

Disabilities. Some disabilities result from weak muscles of lack of motor skills. The severity of these disabilities vary from disorder to disorder. Because the disabilities are so numerous and different, they will not be addressed. However, the some of the solutions to this problem could help these individuals as a byproduct.

Lack of "Hand Activities." There are a lot of activities that can promote strengthening of hand muscles. Activities such as playing with Play doe, promotes strengthening of hand muscles and flexibility of fingers. There are many different hand activities, making it very variable. However, I may be able to incorporate some into my project.

Bad Habits. Bad habits are hard to break. If a child learns how to hold a utensil incorrectly, it is difficult to change. Although changing the grip of the child is possible, the best solution is to prevent this problem altogether.

4. Separate

Now that all the problems are separated I am able to separate them and eliminate the ones that are out of the scope of this project.

I have decided that "tummy time," crawling, and disabilities are too variable and are out of my project's scope. Therefore I am eliminating these problems and am focusing on others.

The components I am going to focus on in hand activities and bad habits.

5. Work Backwards

Assuming that I already have a solution to the problem, I am going to work backwards and think of possible economic models I will use to get my project adopted by the public.

6. The Four Step Process

1) Understanding the Problem: Incorrect utensil grip promotes weak hand muscles. Occupational therapists spend much of their time trying to correct this problem. I have tried to break the problem into components and analyzed the ones that I thought were in the scope of this project.

2) Devise A Plan: A marker that only can be held correctly can be a great tool for occupational therapists to use with their patients who are trying to correct the problem. Furthermore, if parents buy these markers for their kids who are learning how to write and color, then they will never develop an incorrect grip.

3) Carrying Out the Plan: I am going to make various prototypes of the marker to see which design works best. I am also going to collect data about whether parents would buy this marker for their kids and well as if occupational therapists would use them for their patients. Next I am going to look into what the cost of the marker would be. Finally, I am going to try to put my marker on the market.

4) Looking Back: First, I was able to visualize the type of solution I wanted. I was able to separate the problem into components of what caused incorrect utensil grip. From there I was able to analyze each component and eliminate the ones that I thought were out of the scope of this problem. Lastly, I was able to work backwards and figure out who/what some of my possible resources were to get this project out to the consumer.

7. Future Work

A lot of projects can stem from the markers that can only be held one way. For instance, having crayons, colored pencils, and paint brushes that all can only be held correctly would be great tools for both occupational therapist and parents alike! Furthermore, other utensils such as spoons and forks that can only be held correctly would further encourage correct utensil grip.


Davynne shows the first prototype, made of wire, FIMO, and pipe cleaners.

Davynne shows the second prototype, a slip-on grip made with a 3D printer.