BARBERTON, Ohio-- In his Barberton High School STEM class David Kaser is giving his students hands-on experience, learning how to use emerging 3D printer technology.
But the class is also giving the students a lesson in real life.
Kaser's class has created a relationship with humanitarian organizations including EnablingThe Future.org which, he says, identifies problems faced by people around the world who have specific needs including the need for affordable prosthetics.
The organization shares design files that Kaser's class can use to create low-cost prosthetic hands that can be made in class with their 3D printer, giving the students a chance to get experience with the emerging technology and at the same time experience doing something good for other children around the globe.
"One of the goals of this project is obviously outreach instead of being focused on self; it's one of the ways we like to promote our students to look at the world around them and how they contribute," said Kaser.
At a cost of between $30 and $50 each, Kaser's class is able to create prosthetic hands that will help users who still have wrist function but no fingers be able to grab onto and hold items by just moving their wrist.
The cost is covered by grants Kaser says he has been able to get for his class so there is less of an emphasis on cost.
"As opposed to thousands and thousands of dollars for the prosthetic that we might have access to, we can make one of these for between 30 and 50 dollars with all of the materials included," said Kaser.
The students say not only is the project rewarding but it is also fun.
"I like it because we are helping people, because it will open people up who don't have limbs to a lot more opportunities," said Cannon Fehr.
"Once it all comes together it just feels good, and in the end it will help someone so that's even better," said Max Long.
"It's fun. I like that it's like hands on and not just sitting and reading out of a book," said Jamie Matheson.
The class is currently working to assemble more than 20 of the prosthetic hands which will be sent to the humanitarian organization and to a group called TheHandProject.com.
The prosthetics are not made to be able to help with fine motor skills, but they give the user the ability to do some things they would not otherwise be able to do.
Kaser says other plans are already being created to help children who need help play guitar, play trumpet or violin or just hold items.
"We are fortunate enough here at Barberton High School to have the technology and resources to make the hand and so for us to be able to able to produce them and send them out to people is a fantastic lesson for our students to learn," said Kaser.