Carson students use 3D technology to make prosthetic hands

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - Students at the Carson Montessori Charter School have been learning about 3D printing technology for the last six years, but now they're not only learning about 3D technology; they're using it to give back.

In 2012, Shane Watson started teaching kids how to use 3D printers, but over this past winter break he came across a professional development video that changed his entire curriculum.

"This was kind of that moment where it clicked in my head that we could have our students be using our 3D printers, and this technology that they are used to, using for something good."

The video highlighted a global network of volunteers using 3D printers to create prosthetic hands called e-NABLE. Watson didn't waste any time signing up his fifth- and sixth-grade students to start making hands.

"We get the prints, the designs from e-NABLE, then we download them and print it. And then assemble it, but without the cables and hardware," says 11-year-old Sadie Brown.

After the students put the pieces together, the hands are shipped to the State University of New York, where cables are added to make the prosthetics functional.

"The prosthetic hand moves with cables so that the kids who don't have fingers, it can make it easier for them to move it," says 11-year-old Violet Foley.

During class Mr. Watson's students watched a video of a boy who received a printed hand.

10-year-old Bella Chavez says her grandmother grew up without a hand, and watching the video made her excited the little boy wouldn't have to grow up the same way.

"It just made me really happy inside the heart, you know, knowing that he still gets to play and he doesn't get left out on the things like playing ball or holding something, he still gets that chance," says Chavez.

According to e-NABLE, a professionally made prosthetic hand can cost up to 10,000 dollars, and a growing child needs a number of hands created. An e-NABLE hand is free.

Foley says she hopes her class's efforts make a big difference.

"That they like the hand and they can do other things than they used to."

The students already have two hands shipped off, but the goal is to have every fifth and sixth grader create one of their own; that's fifty-one hands.