Horizon Middle School, located in Aurora, has been selected as one of the five Grand Prize Winners in the national Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.
The students, who won Horizon $120,000 in technology, were selected from a pool of more than 4,100 applicants.
The contest challenged public school students in grades 6 through 12 to use their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to solve a problem in their community.
Horizon Middle School students engineered a custom prosthesis for local Gulf War Veteran Kyle Kelly, who lost his left leg due to Gulf War Syndrome.
As part of the project, students interviewed veterans and active military members to identify current types of prosthesis and problems associated with them.
Using computer design programs, students sketched proposals, analyzed costs and developed prototypes.
The prototypes were 3D printed using polycarbonate plastic. They were tested to gather data and determine if any modifications were needed.
The students worked with local engineers, doctors and veterans to test and finalize the design.
"This project has really opened up my mind, now I know more of what to look at, and I actually now want to be an engineer when I grow up," student Simon Frimpong said. "This project is helping me by teaching me more about designing and engineering and how the world works. And it's also helping Kyle [Kelly], because we're building this for him. This will impact his life and make his life a lot better, because he'll have a better prosthetic."
Watch a video the school put together on their project: http://bit.ly/20yHEEe
Mel Possehl, the middle school's STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teacher, oversaw the project. She said it made a difference in all of the students who worked on it.
"I've had a few teachers say, you know, you've changed these kids ... They come in at lunch time to work on things, and they're trying harder," Possehl said. "I think that invests in them to care about their futures, to give them the confidence to know they can do things if they set their minds to it and have that confidence, and if I can build that one thing in them, the sky is the limit for these guys."
Horizon Middle School and the four other Grand Prize Winners will be honored at an awards luncheon in Washington, D.C. on April 27. They will also have the opportunity to meet with their Congressional representatives.
The students have been invited to showcase their project at the White House Science Fair Wednesday.