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Juniors and Seniors Build Prosthetic Hands for Children in Need

Juniors and Seniors Build Prosthetic Hands for Children in Need
Sage Hill juniors and seniors are creating life-changing prosthetic hands for children during Service Learning this year. In August, Sage Hill received a donated 3D printer kit from Ultimaker, due to Sage Hill mathematics teacher Tanya Lerch’s involvement in the company’s Educator Pioneer program. The award-winning Sage Hill Robotics Club assembled the 3D printer, which can be seen operating on the lower level of the D. Diane Anderson Family Humanities Building. It has since been working overtime to help develop prosthetic hands.

Through a Service Learning project led by Mrs. Lerch, who initiated a similar effort at a previous school, students are delivering prosthetic hands to children who either cannot afford the medical devices or cannot receive medical-grade prosthetics until they are older and their bodies have finished growing.

Design, Test and Assembly
Between September through January, Sage Hill students created four prosthetic hands for four recipients. All were children who were former recipients of prosthetic hands Lerch’s previous students created. These children had outgrown their prosthetics and needed new ones. Lerch and the Sage Hill students reached out to each recipient and offered to make them updated prosthetics.

Sage Hill students modified the designs to accommodate each individual. For example, one prosthetic leaves an opening for a thumb hole for one child who has a thumb, but no palm or fingers. Three of the prosthetics were wrist-powered, but one recipient had an amputation above the wrist so she needed a special arm design which closed and opened via flexion of her elbow. The team also took into account requests for style and color preferences, such as creating prosthetics based on various super heroes like Spiderman and Superman.

Once the files for the prosthetics were scaled and designed, the Sage Hill students helped perform the printing on the School’s 3D printer (a process which involved a lot of problem-solving and troubleshooting). The students then assembled and tested everything during the January 11 Service Learning day. Throughout the process, the groups maintained constant communication with the recipients’ families to inform them on the progress.

The project will continue through the year, according to Lerch. The group received a new recipient recently, a child from Brazil, and the team expects to have another recipient later this week. The team will also work on some “hacked” designs and demo hands for display and use at the New York Science fair.

Moving Forward, More 3D Printers Needed!
“We hope to get another printer next year for this project’s use. Just having the one built by the students was difficult as the parts take a long time to print, and can often fail or need to be re-printed,” said Lerch. “We would love to continue the project. I want some of the juniors who are here next year to work on expanding and advancing our project to perhaps modify and make the designs better.” The team has also paired with another group that performs similar projects for animal prosthetics and are anxiously awaiting an animal that needs a prosthetic so the team can begin building one.

Participating Sage Hill students include:
  • Rachel Bryant
  • Michele Chen
  • Chace Duma
  • Theo Evers
  • Eric Frankel
  • Priya Ketan Kamdar
  • Emily Lassiter
  • Jacob Laven
  • Ava Lewinter
  • Vanessa Martinez
  • Lauren Nicole Piano
  • Niva Razin
  • Sahar Rohani
  • Miles Wilson

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Sage Hill School

Sage Hill School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs, and athletic and other School administered programs.