At the start of the 2016-17 school year, a new 3D printer was installed in the technology department at Whitesboro High School in Oneida County. Its capabilities, combined with the heart and skill of technology teacher Chris Jensen, resulted in the creation of a new prosthetic hand for student Virginia Davis.
The printers are used in education for science, engineering, art and design. Students can create a prototype of a wind turbine, for example. For biology class, they can create an organ and then study its mass through cross sections. Geography students can create topographic maps. A fossil collection from a British museum can be reproduced in a classroom in New York.
But Davis had other ideas. Born with only a partial right hand, the 17-year-old was working on a health class project involving prosthetics when she got the idea to create a hand for herself. She asked Jensen for help.
“I never made anything like this,” Jensen said. “We just got the printer in September.”
They used plastic, rubber and filament to make the hand, along with fishing line for tensions. The 13-hour print job, which took three tries, had to be followed up with manual adjustments.
“We had no expectations and the Lord reminds me to be humble,” said Jensen, who has been teaching for 19 years. “I’m glad I could help and will continue to do so at every chance I get.”
Jensen is a member of the 300-member Whitesboro Teachers Association, led by Tim Madonia. Whitesboro is located in Oneida County, and its population hovers just below 4,000 people.