I was invited to present at the 2016 National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools Student Research Conference hosted by the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. While participating in this awesome opportunity I saw and experienced many new and exciting things that I had never even known existed before – one of them being the Maker Movement!
One of the most inspiring and amazing things I got to do there was assemble a 3D-printed prosthetic hand for a child who needed one. It was on our very first night that they presented the maker movement to us. Our conference leaders showed us how important it was for people who had access to a 3D printer to reach out and help those in need, and how easy it was to assemble the hands.
My two partners and I, which I had just met that evening, started to work on putting together the prosthetic hand. It was hard at first, because we had never done it before, but after following nearly the same steps for each finger on the hand, and repeatedly studying the instructions, we felt accomplished. While we were making the hand, we were able to connect over our research that we would all be presenting the next day, all while precariously trying to slip small dental rubber bands on the joints of the fingers for movement.
The simplicity, yet ingenuity of that hands was quite astounding. They were built so that when the child bent their wrist, the hand would close. Knowing this, the strings attaching the hand to the piece on the wrist had to be at a certain degree so the child could easily use the prosthetic hand. I remember being really impressed by the effort that went into designing it.
After we were done for the evening, each of us was given a prosthetic finger to keep as a reminder of those who are helping make our world a better place. I still keep it on my desk, because someday I hope to invent something that can bring people together, just as these incredible people have done.
Sophomore, Berrien County Math Science Center