Fluid Power Journal

FIRST Students Offer Helping Hands – Literally – to Those in Need

Most eighth grade students spend their lunch breaks eating a sandwich or snacking on a burrito. However, FIRST Tech Challenge Team 6914 “Charging Chaos” and FIRST Tech Challenge Team 8823 “Mariner Mayhem” from St. Francis, Wis., decided to do something a bit more altruistic with their time off: build prosthetic hands for several youngsters around the country.

As part of a FIRST robotics program at Deer Creek Intermediate School, a group of middle school students—along with their science teacher and FIRST mentor, Peter Graven—have been using 3D printing technology to create prosthetic hands at a cost significantly lower than ones currently on the market. The going rate for a prosthetic arm can be as much as $50,000. However, after two months of working together for 15 minutes a day during their lunch breaks designing, printing, and assembling a prototype, team members were able to create a similar prosthetic hand using just $20 worth of materials.

Graven, who has been involved with FIRST since 2007, said he’s amazed at what the students have accomplished and how FIRST benefits go well beyond the classroom. He added that FIRST activities help his students build confidence in their thinking and open their minds to creative solutions.

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