A 5th grade class in Philadelphia, PA created a working prosthetic hand for a young girl by using their classroom 3D printer.
Andrew Jackson Elementary teacher, Jayda Pugliese raised money for the classroom printer in 2016 and when she finally got the printer she was terrified.
“Because it was like, ok, I have a 3D printer, now I need to make sure I can integrate this into my instruction.”
Pugliese says she went into it honest with her students, and told them she had no idea how to use a 3D printer.
“They embraced my honesty and we all learned together” Pugliese said.
Pugliese and her students taught themselves a lot about 3D printing by watching YouTube videos.
After a year of becoming more comfortable with the printer they took an aggressive step.
“I actually ran into a parent and she had a four-year-old daughter that was born without a hand” Pugliese said.
“And I discussed with the parent that there could be the potential of me creating a prosthetic, but I couldn’t guarantee anything. Because I was still new at this, but I will try with my class to make one.”
Pugliese’s students were enthusiastic to take on the challenge.
“It took us a lot of tries. There was a very big learning curve”
It took several months to build the hand, but Pugliese was ultimately able to present the mother with a usable prothetic hand.
It became more real to her students when they actually saw it printed out and they saw where it was going. “I actually had a few students start crying”
Pugliese built the hand for about $25. This is significant because insurance companies often don’t cover the cost of professional prosthetics for growing children.
“That saved that family thousands and thousands of dollars.” Pugliese says her hope is that when this child cannot fit this hand anymore we can build another one.
For privacy reasons, Pugliese and the child’s mother asked not to release any pics of the young girl receiving the hand, but Pugliese said the mother was very pleased.
Pugliese’s class is now working with a charity called Pawsthetics and they are going to be paired up with animals that need prosthetics during the 2017-2018 school year.
Pugliese said, “We may actually be creating a turtle shell for a turtle”
A 3D printer is right for the teacher that wants to create something different in their classroom.
“If you’re really tired of doing something traditional, your a tech person and like incorporating technology in different ways, but you want to try something next level.” Pugliese says a 3D printer might be right for you.