Local students use 3D printers to create prosthetic hands for children around the world

NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) – Students at Novi Woods Elementary School are teaming up in the classroom and making an impact around the world. They’re creating prosthetic limbs for kids in need by using 3D printers they have in the school district.

Fourth grader Shalin Sitaraman says, “We’re making these prosthetic hands so that they can have an easier life.”

The kids’ mentors are members of Novi High School’s robotics team.

Fenton Lawler is a Novi High School senior.

He says, “Watching the kids when they get to see the 3D printer and putting it together, they have a lot of fun. It’s just really heartwarming.”

Fenton is on the robotics team which had already been creating the prosthetic limbs for the global non-profit e-NABLE. It’s a network of volunteers that uses 3D printing to provide the free prosthetic limbs.

Last summer, Fenton and his teammate, Kirsten Anderson, decided they wanted to get more people involved.

“We just kinda thought about it. There’s kids out there that could be building these arms and learning about 3D technology. getting an experience you couldn’t get anywhere else,” says Fenton.

They, along with a parent in the community, met with Julie Farkas of the Novi Public Library. They were looking for a way to take E-Nable to other students and to the community.

“This was a win-win from the get go,” says Farkas.

Soon after that meeting, they started working with some of the district’s 4th graders to use 3D printers and plastic filament to create the prosthetics.

Luke Janigian says, “It was pretty hard to make it. When I saw it I was like it’s finally done. I just knew that someone in the world would be able to get that hand that didn’t have one.”

In December, the helping hands project went beyond the classroom and to the library. That’s where community members got a chance to make them, too.

“We were able to create an assembly day and sign up people who were interested in learning more about the hand and making a hand,” says Farkas.

Plans are already in the works for the next community assembly day. Thanks to donations and 3D printers that are already in the district and the library, the students are able to make a difference.

So far, nearly 100 prosthetic arms and hands have been made.

Fenton Lawler says, “It’s not just just the movement. It’s the fact that they have a limb there. For many in poor countries, they are not able to work or fit into society. Now that they have an arm, they can fit in.”

Jyotsna Joshi is also a senior at Novi High School.

She says, “I never understood what it means when people say I saw a spark in their eyes and when I work with these kids and you explain something and they get it, you see the cognition happen. That was my favorite part.”

They all say it’s been a rewarding experience. Soon, they hope to extend it to all of the district’s 4th graders.

Ten-year-old Tessa Taulbee, a student at Novi Woods, says “I think it’s great because even though we’re kids, we get to make a difference. Some people have to wait to make their difference, but we already get to do something amazing like this.” 

The students have a goal of creating 200 prosthetic arms by June.

If you want to learn more about e-NABLE go to: http://enablingthefuture.org

To learn more about how Novi is helping “e-nable” the future, go to: http://www.novilibrary.org/Resources/Access-Technology/Enabling-The-Future.aspx

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