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It costs just $5 to make — weighs less than a pound, but students at Benjamin Banneker academic high school in Washington D.C. hope that this simple invention could protect more students during school shootings than metal detectors and bag checks.
“With active shooters being so prevalent, they need come up with other ways to secure buildings,” John Mahoney, math teacher at Benjamin Banneker, said.
Students and teachers here have been so shaken by recent school shootings that they’ve invented a locking device for classroom doors.
“For me the key shooting was in Columbine High school in Colorado where it was actually a mathematics teacher who was killed, and I teach mathematics here,” Mahoney said.
“Because it happened in Connecticut it can also happen here in DC,” Deonte Antrum, student, said.
Made up simply of a PVC pipe and a steel pin – the device can be fitted over a hydraulic door closer if there’s ever an intruder is in the hallway. This will keep the classroom firmly locked, and prevent a gunman from gaining entry.
“In lieu of trying to get all the school doors with deadbolt locks on it, I think this is a quick practical way of doing it,” Anita Berger Principal, said.
Like in many schools across the country classrooms at Benjamin Banneker can’t be locked from the inside for fire safety reasons.
“I don’t even have a handle on the inside of my door or any way to secure the inside of the door.
At Sandy Hook elementary school last December one teacher locked her students in a bathroom to protect them from 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza.
“The recent shooting where the shooter broke into the building and shot a lot of kids inspired us to do it because it proved that the building, the doors aren’t that secure.”
Students here were recently awarded a $6600 grant from Lemelson M.I.T. to develop a final version of their device.
“Well we’re not quite ready for an IPO yet, but we anticipate having a really great prototype by spring,” student Anjreyev Harvey said.
And with this crude safety mechanism, they say they now have an extra barrier in place if they ever they hear gunshots from the hallway.
“God forbid something happens, but my hope is that everyone is trained in how to use it and everyone has where it is available to use.”