Welcome gift: students build their new classmate a robotic hand

students robotic hand

The new student was feeling nervous because of his underdeveloped hand

When Sergio Peralta, a 15-year-old from Hendersonville, Tennessee, started at a new school this year, he was feeling nervous. He had an underdeveloped hand and he was worried about what others would think. But his engineering class build him a very special welcome gift: a robotic hand.

Underdeveloped hand

Sergio Peralta was born with an underdeveloped hand. His right hand hadn’t fully formed and when he started at a new school, he felt nervous. He told CBS News: “In the first days of school, I honestly felt like hiding my hand. Like nobody would ever find out.” Sergio was used to not using his hand. He could write with his left one and he could basically do everything other people can, with special tricks or techniques. Going to a new school, being “different” is always scary. But Sergio never expected his classmates to give him a warm welcome with a very special gift.

Robotic hand

The teacher of Sergio’s engineering class, Jeff Wilkins, found out about Sergio’s secret and wanted to do something for the new student. So he gave his class the assignment of building Sergio a new hand. One of Sergio’s classmates told CBS: “You’re supposed to be engineering, coming up with new ideas, solving issues. And just making things better than how they used to be.” The gift completely surprised Sergio. “They ended up offering me, like, ‘We could build your prosthetic hand’, and I never expected it,” he told CBS. “Like, never in a million years.” For four weeks, the class (including Sergio) worked on the project. They designed the hand, 3D printed it and created a prototype. Eventually, they tested Sergio’s new hand by playing catch, one of the things Sergio wasn’t able to do before. It was a great success. “…living without a hand for 15 years and they actually offered me two is actually pretty cool. Like changed my life,” Sergio said.

The principle of Sergio’s school, Bob Cotter, told CBS that the hand is “…a testament to the students we have here who care about each other and the programme that Jeff Wilkins has built.”

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Source: BBC | Image: Unsplash, charlesdeluvio