Student makes AC unit to cool fellow 4th-graders

Abram Barker, homemake AC, Kettle Lake Elementary
Fourth-grader Abram Barker made this air conditioning unit to help cool his classroom at Kettle Lake Elementary. (Sept. 26, 2017)


CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — With his classmates miserable in the recent unseasonable heat wave, 9-year-old Abram Barker decided to take matters into his own hands.

Kettle Lake Elementary school near Caledonia was one of many schools enduring temperatures above 90 degrees. Some schools resorted to half days or blasting fans, but Abram had a better idea.

On Monday, he brought in a homemade air conditioning unit to his fourth-grade class. The simple design consisted of one large Rubbermaid container, 40 frozen water bottles, some towels, a fan and a couple of 2-liter bottles. The unit managed to cool the classroom by several degrees.

Abram’s teacher Kelly LaCroix said she had been encouraging her students to find creative ways to beat the heat, but Abram went above and beyond.

“I was thinking, ‘What a great problem-solver,'” LaCroix said.

LaCroix said she used the air conditioner to teach the children about science. They talked about phase change, condensation, evaporation and temperature.

Abram said he likes to invent things in his spare time. Before the air conditioner, he worked on an RC car.

“I tried to make an RC car go 100 mph, but it didn’t have enough torque,” he said.

His dad is an engineer and his mom organized a science night at Kettle Lake Elementary earlier this year that drew hundreds of attendees.

Abram said he got the idea for making the air conditioner from YouTube, but like a true engineer, he made some improvements so it would better suit the class.

“So I gave it a larger base and I stuck some towels in there to pick up the sweat and insulate it,” Abram said.

The students were overjoyed to have the invention this week in the heat.

“Before he made the air conditioning, I was like, ‘Mom, do I have to go to school?’ And she made me and I was like, ‘What is that thing?!’ And I stuck my hand in front of it and I was like, ‘I want to keep going to school,'” one of Abram’s classmates said.

As a bonus, the students were able to drink the bottles of water inside the air conditioner at the end of the day as an extra way to stay cool.

Classmates told Abram they wished there was a way for them to thank him for bringing in the unit. Abram said a simple thank you would do. The fourth grade class decided that made sense and gave Abram a big thank you.

The class decided to call the creation “Abram’s Air.” They decided if they need it again next year, they would love to have it stashed with Popsicles, too.

Staff members at Kettle Lake say they’re proud of their kids and their ability to think outside the box to tackle big problems like beating the heat.