ASD students make prosthetic hand for second grader

Front row sitting/kneeling: Robert Kennett, Sierra Landel, Harun Halilovic, Alex Kennett. Back row: Gurpreet Singh, Keith Chafe, Mitchel Francoeur, Owen Sullivan, Morgan Woodby, Cameron Dugan, Justin Wood, Jessica Meissner and Madge Smith.

NASHUA – Across the country, there is a big need for prosthetics, but they typically cost thousands of dollars. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 1,500 babies are born in the United States without part or all of their arm. For children who are constantly outgrowing them, this expense often makes them out of reach for many families. A group of students from the Academy for Science and Design in Nashua worked together with two adult mentors, Madge Smith and Bob Kennett and made an elbow controlled prosthetic hand for Harun, a second grader from Peter Woodbury School in Bedford. In addition, Harun has and will continue to receive tremendous support from Penny Demos and the staff at Peter Woodbury School. As Harun’s occupational therapist, Penny was instrumental in connecting the two schools to collaborate on this incredibly meaningful project.

When the idea was first brought up to Madge Smith, who is the computer science teacher at ASD, she was immediately on board.

“This was an incredible project to work on with an awesome group of 7-10th grade students. We all started off with minimal experience in prosthetics and 3-D printing,” said Smith. “However, with a can-do attitude, a little determination, a lot of interest, and resources on the Internet, we were able to print a hand for Harun. That feels pretty special!”

The students met once each week after school for approximately three months to research, 3D print, and assemble a new arm and hand for Harun. Earlier this month, the students were honored at the ASD board of trustees meeting. On Monday, May 15, Harun was able to put on the red, white and blue arm that was 3D printed just for him, and to the sound of applause, flexed his new hand for the first time! Harun had some input over his new prosthetic arm, and he even helped select the colors. The colors were chosen based on the second graders’ love of Captain America. In addition to the new prosthetic, the students also presented Harun with a cape and mask that matched his new hand.

ASD Director Jennifer Cava was full of enthusiasm for this project as she remarked, “I am grateful that our students had the opportunity to use their valuable skills and talents to make a positive difference in the world. Their sense of compassion and their commitment to improving the lives of others fills me with optimism about our future.”

The hand will allow Harun to do all kinds of tasks, it opens and closes as he bends his elbow. That creates tension on the strings inside the device which moves the fingers.

The hand created at ASD only required about $13 in materials, as well as a great deal of patience and precision from the dedicated students.

Also helping out with this project was Bob Kennett, as well as the Bedford Men’s Club, whic made a $500 donation toward the project.

According to the website (, the e-NABLE Community is made up of teachers, students, engineers, scientists, medical professionals, tinkerers, designers, parents, children, scout troops, artists, philanthropists, dreamers, coders, makers and everyday people who just want to make a difference and help to “Give The World A Helping Hand.”

– Submitted by Academy for Science and Design