High School Engineering Students Create a Robotic Hand for Classmate

The students designed a program and 3-d printed the robotic hand.

Feb 11, 2023
High School Engineering Students Create a Robotic Hand for Classmate | The students designed a program and 3-d printed the robotic hand.

When a teenager starts a new school, they are usually nervous about making friends and fitting in. This was certainly the case for 15-year-old  Sergio Peralta who started this school year at Hendersonville High School in Tennessee.

It was even more of a challenge for Sergio because he was trying to keep a congenital disorder a secret from his new classmates , reported CBS News. He never expected the support and friendship his classmates showed when they built him a new robotic hand. “They changed my life,” Sergio told CBS news.

Not a disability
Sergio was born with a right hand that was not fully formed but he was used to it and adapted to do everything with his left hand, according to the BBC, including writing.  He even manages to carry his books and water bottle to class, one handed.

But being the new kid in school , made Sergio very self-conscious. “In the first days of school, I honestly felt like hiding my hand,” he told CBS News; “like nobody would ever find out.”

But Jeff Wilkins, a teacherat the high school, who found out about the secret, asked his engineering class to help. The suggestion to build a robotic hand came from the class.

“They ended up offering me, like, 'We could build your prosthetic hand', and I never expected it," Sergio said. “Like, never in a million years.”

About the class project
Wilkins engineering class decided to tackle the project head on and turn something theoretical into a reality, reported the BBC.

The class had access to online models and a 3-D printer to work with and didn’t know if the end product would actually function. After four weeks of working on the robotic hand and sizing it to Sergio’s hand, they put the prototype to test with a game of catch.

This was something that Sergio wasn’t able to do one-handed. The prototype passed with flying colors when he was able to catch the ball.

One of the students, Leslie Jaramillio, told CBS affiliate WVTF that the project served the spirit of the engineering classes purpose. He said, “You’re supposed to be engineering, coming up with new ideas, solving issues… just making things better than how they used to be

Besides making the prosthetic, the class befriended Sergio and helped him adjust to the new school in ways he never anticipated. “I never expected this. Living without a hand for 15 years and they actually offered me two is actually pretty cool. No one has ever offered me this stuff,” Sergio said. “Changed my life”

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.