CENTENNIAL - When Maria Hatch first heard of this idea to have her fifth grade class build prosthetic hands, she was a little shocked. Weeks later, her students are getting ready to ship off a project they never dreamed of before.
"The most I've seen come off of our 3D printer were little keychain nametags," Hatch said.
Hatch teaches at Trails West Elementary School in Centennial. She decided to take on a service project that is growing nationwide.
"Some of them may stay in the United States and others may go elsewhere," Hatch said.
The "Prosthetic Kids Hand Challenge" was created by sixth grade students at a school in South Carolina. The service project is about providing real, working hand to kids who cannot afford a proper prosthetic.
"Buying a prosthetic hand would be too much for a person to use," Andy Nguyen, fifth grade student, said.
Hatch and another teacher, Hollis Jacob, printed out the parts for the hands on the school's 3-D printer. Then, Hatch's 30 students spent the next month carefully putting the pieces together to create a hand that uses a system of strings and joints that fits where a person's hand would be.
"We started in February," Andy said. "The hardest part were actually the fingers."
Hatch says the project is a great learning experience for her students that fit well into the school's focus on science, technology, engineering, and math. But, most of all, she says it's a life lesson.
"They would understand, you know, their pain in their fingers was to make fingers for somebody else," Hatch said. "So, it's rewarding to me that they can overcome the pain for themselves to help other kids."
The prosthetic hands will be to the project coordinators in South Carolina. They are collecting hands that are being made all around the country and distribute them around the world.