Students invent classroom door lock

“Shaken by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and determined to prevent future tragedies, a team of high school students in Washington, D.C., has invented a new locking device for classroom doors,” reports Discovery News. Often classroom doors can’t be locked from the inside due to fire-safety regulations. They hope their low-cost device will help teachers keep intruders out.


Ten Benjamin Banneker Academic High School students, led by math teacher John Mahoney, created the Dead Stop. A PVC pipe that’s hinged on one side can be locked on the other with a steel pin. Fitted over a hydraulic door closer, it will prevent the door hinge from widening.

 When the students did research about patents and commercially available door locks, they said most of the devices they found required physical installation either on the door or the jamb. Other devices were expensive and complicated to install. Theirs should cost less than $5 and be simple enough that a teacher could lock the door in under 30 seconds, they said. Once the danger has passed it should be easy to remove as well.

With a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant, the students plan to build and test several prototypes of their design, publicize the DIY instructions and collaborate with a company to manufacture the device. They’re hoping for pro bono help in applying for a patent.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Good for them working on this.
    But, if I get the diagram right, the leverage is against them. You can put a huge amount of energy into a door kicking it, throwing your shoulder, etc, and the leverage multiplies the energy against the lock. PVC won’t break, nor will the pin. Looks as if the weak link would be the hinge. If I’m right, I hope they have a pretty solid hinge.

  2. Ann in Ohio says:

    We hope they will actually test the prototypes. The hinge problem might be solvable with a slight design change.