Seventh Graders Build Prosthetic Hand Using 3D Printing

Feb 19, 2015

Lexus Eco Challenge TeamA group of seventh graders from Frisco ISD’s Pioneer Heritage Middle School is working to give independence to anyone around the world who may be in need of a prosthetic hand.

The students created a YouTube video to show others that prosthetic hands are affordable, accessible and attainable through 3D printing - no medical degree or engineering background necessary.

The video includes detailed instructions for printing and assembling a mechanical hand that can grip, throw and pick up items.

The students, including Arjun Nair, Jackson Young, Jaden Mendez, Rishab Krishnan and Sam Kulkarni, have spent countless hours outside the school day working on the project.

“We thought that if five seventh graders from Frisco, Texas, could do it that it would inspire other people that anyone can do it,” Jaden Mendez said.

The project is part of the Lexus Eco Challenge, a national STEM contest for students in grades 6-12 focusing on environmental issues and practical solutions. 

The students, who call themselves the “3D Scienteers,” set out to show others how to reduce their carbon footprint by “printing local” using a 3D printer, instead of ordering items online and having them brought in from far away.

The team created a website where they organized several free 3D downloads, 3D printing research and a locator tab to help people find their own local 3D printer.

They’ve already been named a regional winner in the contest and won $10,000 in grants and scholarships. Now they’re competing against seven other finalists from middle schools from across the country for an additional $30,000 in grants and scholarships. But the prizes aren’t their motivation.

“We just hope that we can make the world a better place by printing prosthetic hands and helping people save thousands of dollars,” Jackson Young said.

The students’ prosthetic hand cost less than $50 to make, thousands less than a regular prosthetic, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The group plans to donate their hand and is working with e-NABLE, a community of people who make and donate prosthetic hands using 3D printing, to identify someone in the area who could benefit from the hand.

“A lot of people have a goal to make a difference and change someone’s life,” said the team’s sponsor Taylor Davis, a science teacher at Pioneer Heritage. “But they’re actually doing it. They are going to change this person’s life, literally forever.”

Learn More

  • The group is getting some media attention for their efforts. Check out this video from NBC 5 News.