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Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education are on a rise that is providing hands on experience to students. Students are not just learning what they read in their textbooks, but are learning to apply critical thinking and innovative ideas. One major organization that supports this form of education is FIRST. It stands for inspiration and recognition of science and technology (FIRST). This program is offered to 4th– 12th grade students from all over the world to take part in various competitions and championships that FIRST holds every year. They are allotted only 6 weeks to build a robot, teams are given a standard set of parts and are limited to how much they can spend on either buying or making specialized parts.

Although each challenge is different, it gets kids to think outside of the box and find ways of making the world a better place. Yuval Dascalu, a 17-year-old high school student from Israel, has been competing in FIRST’s competitions since fourth grade and has enjoyed every moment. Entering into these competitions are exciting for Dascalu.

It gives him a sense of pride to know that he has been “a part of something grand. Seeing a winning robot knowing that you made it happen and you were a crucial part of it is all we ever need,” Dascalu expressed.

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FIRST LEGO League Dascalu’s robot

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LEGO League obstacle course

However, from this whole experience, it has influenced his passion for technology, robotics, and now 3D printing. After his older brother had purchased a 3D printer, Dascalu has been amazed at what it could do. He’s applied what he’s learned in school to create 3D models for others to enjoy.

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Dascalu’s high school FIRST team at a robotics competition

With the machine, he’s created a music box, rubber band gun, bubble machine, a hologram generator, and much more. He has received requests from businesses, kindergarten teachers, and professors to make things like personalized pop out assembly kits. He offers this service for free without expecting anything in return.

I know there are plenty of ways I can earn money for what I do, but I just imagine myself on the other end of the bargain. It doesn’t hurt me at all. It could potentially make their day and get my name out there. Seeing their amazed reactions is always worth it,” Dascalu explained.

He makes things for the delight of others and expects nothing back in return other than a simple smile and a thank you.

As I look back on all the things that I’ve made, my foldable knife has to be one of my best. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing and not the most impressive at first glance. But I had every opportunity to break my restraints and I didn’t,” Dascalu expressed.

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Pop out card knife kit

Even though printing the knife on the 3D printer was challenging, it was all worth the hard work and effort in the end. The foldable knife prints as small as a business card and when all the parts are assembled it folds up to the size of a key. The inspiration behind this model was developed after receiving a tactical knife from his older brother. Before going to the army, his brother bought one for himself and one for Dascalu.

I was really happy with that knife. I use it to this day when cleaning objects or on my printer. I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Dascalu expressed.

After all his hard work on making this knife, it has turned out to be the most popular 3D design that he has created. It has roughly 2,000 likes from users all over the world and is by far his favorite model. When designing his models, his source of inspiration derives from “the people I surround myself with,” Dascalu said.

My family is very supportive and so is my robotics team. Whenever I get a new idea I pitch it to whoever is near me at the moment. If they say it’s possible I’d put it on the back-burner. However, if they say it’s impossible that’s where the fun begins. I take up my notebook and start to plan and sketch,” Dascalu explained.

Nothing is impossible for Dascalu. He imagines, draws out, and creates what he conjures up. He isn’t afraid to fail rather learns from each mistake. This helps to make his creations better than before. Sometimes the best inventions are the ones that you may fail at first but never stop trying. American writer and philosopher, Elbert Hubbard once said, “The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” For Yuval Dascalu, he’s doing just that by making the impossible possible.

See Yuval Dascalu’s models here.
Check out his YouTube page!


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