Classmates build prosthetic hand for seventh-grader

Published: Dec. 18, 2013 at 11:24 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 19, 2013 at 12:29 AM EST
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EDGEWOOD, KY (FOX19) - A Northern Kentucky seventh grader, born without a left hand, is having a custom prosthetic hand made for her by her classmates at Turkey Foot Middle School in Edgewood.

The students in Turkey Foot's bio-medical engineering class are learning to combine the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math to create an artificial hand for a classmate Makayla Murphy.

The project is still in the design phase and eighth-grader Madison Crosby explains they've started out with a finger.

"We all built what we thought the finger should look like and this was the winning design," says Madison.

On a computer screen Madison points to a robotic-looking figure with three joints. "So this is what the finger is going to look like for our prosthetic," she adds.

Instructor Dwayne Humphrey says the goal is to create a fully functioning hand.

"We could actually use things like an Arduino and program it to where it's running servos inside of the arm to actually move the fingers," explains Humphrey.

Having a left hand with moving fingers would make life a whole lot easier for Makayla Murphy.

"It's hard to do a bunch of stuff like getting dressed and carrying books and stuff like that," explains Makayla. "It's hard to do a bunch of that stuff, but I just try to do it."

Makayla's classmates will try to design a fully articulated hand and build it using a 3D printer.

Humphrey says having a 3D printer opens up a lot of possibilities.

"3D printers are not the answer to the world's problems," says Humphrey. "3D printers are a tool and when schools have something like that accessible to them it's amazing what students are able to do with that type of technology."

Madison says Makayla is worth taking on such an ambitious project.

"If we build this prosthetic for her it could make a lot of things easier," says Madison. "It makes you feel like a better person knowing that you're changing someone's life."

The finished product is months away and Makayla says she can hardly wait.

"It makes me feel really special, like I'm really excited about it and everything," explains Makayla. "It will probably help me carry books and stuff better, be able to hold a pencil -another pencil like a pencil in this hand."

The cutting edge curriculum is called 'Project Lead the Way' and the hope is that some of the students will consider a career in science and technology.

The Turkey Foot eighth graders are getting help with the project from doctors and professional engineers.

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