Grade 9 students at Jean Vanier Catholic High School in Collingwood are taking hands-on learning to a whole new level. They are using 3-D printers and software to create prosthetic hands for individuals on the other side of the world.
After seeing the idea on social media, John Michalenko, teacher at Jean Vanier, connected with an organization called Enabling the Future. The group’s founder, Ivan Owen, had posted a YouTube video of a metal hand he had created and was contacted by a carpenter in South Africa who had lost his fingers. Ivan decided to made prosthetic fingers for the man, as well as a hand for a young South-African boy.
The organization encourages anyone to register with them if they have lost a hand and need one. Many volunteers have been helping out with the organization since its start in 2011, creating hands and fingers for those in need.
When Mr. Michalenko saw this, he figured, why can’t we help too? And that’s exactly what he did. Along with his project team, Ryan Nowacki, Orla Molloy, Janneke Watt, Kennedy Syrota and Kyle Nebres, the group got to work. They used a plastic material called PLA to create the hand, and fishing wire to simulate the tendons. The total cost to make the hand was $40.00.
The students are so excited to be able to create something in the classroom that can benefit someone so greatly on the other side of the world. They have not only learned the scientific process of how to create such an object, they have been taught the importance of social justice. It is a great reminder that it doesn’t take much time, nor money, to help someone in need.