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Fourth graders at Roy B. Kelley Elementary design and produce a prosthetic hand for their classmate

Posted by Jacqui Adams on

Taken from Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

By Rachel Fuerschbach

The door of possibilities was opened for 10-year-old Ethan James when he and his fourth-grade classmates at Roy B. Kelley Elementary School produced a prosthetic hand for him to use.

Ethan, who was born without a right hand, is now able to grab objects, shake someone's hand and swing a bat, all things that he wasn't able to do or struggled to do previously.

While pregnant with Ethan, Jane James and her husband Ken were told that Ethan was not fully developing. He was born without a right hand and one of his feet is not fully formed.

Growing up, Ethan never faced bullying, but his mom sensed that he preferred to keep to himself. It wasn't until he received and started using a prototype prosthetic hand about a month ago that he began to come out of his shell, according to Mrs. James. Ethan's classmates and school district staff presented him with the real thing on Friday.

"The project did more for him than just physically," Mrs. James said. "He really came out of his shell this year."

The classroom project was proposed by teacher Kirsten Provenzano after she attended a Maker Faire in Rochester. There she encountered the Enable Booth, a company that works with disabled children and adults, and Lucy, a girl who was cup stacking using a 3D prosthetic hand. Immediately, Provenzano thought of Ethan and decided that she wanted to try to acquire such a device for him.

Provenzano coordinated with Robert LiPuma, director of assessment and technology for Lockport City School District, and Noah Raymond, North Park technology teacher, to launch a pilot project, the costs of which were fully covered under the district's STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) initiative.

The project began this past January, when students worked to scale Ethan's 3D prosthetic hand properly. They had to learn various math equations in order to do so, learn how to convert standard measurements to metric measurements and learn how to use MakerBot, a computer program used for printing 3D pieces. Then, the students assembled the prosthetic hand.

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