When I was in second grade, I was learning how to write words in a way which were at least somewhat legible, and when leaving school my biggest worry was which Nintendo game I would be playing that afternoon. Here we are 25 years later; my handwriting is still quite terrible, I still enjoy playing Nintendo, and today’s second graders are not working on their cursive handwriting skills, but are instead 3D designing and printing prosthetic legs for injured animals. Boy have times changes. First it was computers, and now it’s 3D printers which are transforming the way children learn around the world. One second grade class in Ostego, Michigan, has used their school’s 3D printer in quite a remarkable way. They utilized this machine to print a prosthetic leg for a 4-week-old chick.
We’ve seen some remarkable ways in which 3D printers are helping all sorts of animals, from dogs, to geese, to even turtles. The customization made available by the technology has allowed designers to create perfectly fitting prosthetic devices for animals which would have struggled to live otherwise. This certainly proved to be the case for a group of 7 and 8-year-olds in one Ostego elementary school.
They were introduced to the chick a few weeks ago, which at just 4-week-old has one major problem. The chick, named Fighter, was born without the use of one of her legs. Surely she wouldn’t have survived, especially if in the wild, with such a condition, but the second grade class refused to give up. Through trial and error they designed and then 3D printed tiny prosthetic legs for Fighter until they finally came up with a design which allowed the fragile little chick to walk on her own.
Printed with thermoplastic on a ROBO 3D R1 3D Printer, the leg functions by providing additional support for the non-functioning leg that the chick was born with. The printer, which fabricates an object by melting and depositing plastics one layer at a time, sells for under $800 brand new. Once strapped onto Fighter, the leg allows the chick to walk more fluidly and comfortably. Because the plastic used for the leg costs just a few dollars at most, students should be able to continue to modify their design as Fighter outgrows the current one.
While we have covered numerous animal stories in the past, this is certainly one which shows the far reaching benefits of 3D printing, not only in helping this poor little creature, but also in providing an incredibly hands-on learning tool for children like those in this Ostego, Michigan class.
Do you have school-aged children? Do they have access to a 3D printers? Let’s hear your thoughts on this incredibly story. Discuss in the 3D Printed Chick Leg forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below thanks to KEYC News 12.