In the past few years, we’ve seen the growth of 3D technology and other STEM programs make their way into our school systems while encouraging students to become more involved in science and technology. On March 16th, students gathered at PS 20 here in Jersey City for a Project E-Nable program with the help of PicoTurbine International. Headquartered in Jersey City, NJ, PicoTurbine International is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education company focused on providing dynamic, hands-on learning programs supported by cutting-edge products and services to students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12).
Dr. Darrell Carson kicked off the event by thanking the participating students and noted that he was impressed by the humanistic part of the program, which gave students the opportunity to “give back, possibly to a fellow friend, fellow student, someone from another state who may need a prosthetic” based on the students’ designs. Looking around the room, you could see that each group of students put hours of time and effort into their designs to make them the best they can be.
I spoke to The 3D Squad from PS 5 about their project in order to gain insight on the process and what students learned through this project. Students learned how to use TinkerCAD (CAD stands for Computer Aided Design) in order to create the prosthetic hand and grew to understand how to use the program for 3D printing. Student Vikram shared his excitement in using TinkerCAD, especially to build the prosthetic hand. In order to even work on printing the prosthetic hand, students had to prepare sketches and details. Student Manavi said the most difficult part of the project for her was compiling the sketches. “We have three sketches,” explained student Brielle. “The first one has millimeters so we could put them on TinkerCAD, the second one was to basically get the idea, and the final one was made to have the hand set up.”
When it came down to finally finishing the product, the students felt a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Student Brielle continued to explain, “It’s satisfying because we get to help someone and we’re young. Kids our age in the past didn’t have the chance to do this, didn’t have the chance to even know about this technology. We’re happy to be able to help someone who doesn’t have what we have.” This project surpassed the idea of learning about STEM/STEAM technology and became a project based on compassion and generosity.
Students were excited to present their projects not only to the designated judges, but also to parents and Mayor Fulop, who stopped by to see the students’ work and hear their presentations. Several groups shared their processes and final products with enthusiasm, and they were all excited to see their designs potentially become a helpful prosthetic for a fellow student.
The prosthetic hands that were designed by students were made to help student Chrystian Stephens of PS 30. Chrystian was born without a hand, and previous prosthetics were not helpful or easily accessible for him. This program and the efforts made by the students were heartwarming to him and to his mother, who made brief speeches to share their excitement and gratefulness. Everyone in the room was filled with emotion as Chrystian tugged at their heartstrings when he took the stage to thank everyone for participating and helping him move one step closer to an easier life.
The winners of the Project E-Nable Initiative program, The Prosthetic Experts of PS 5, will have their design worked on to eventually be given to Chrystian. Overall, this was an amazing sight to see – several students worked together to learn and understand how to use STEM/STEAM technology through PicoTurbine’s programs, and did this to benefit a fellow student in Jersey City.