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Fourth grade students in Jersey City displayed their prosthetic projects at School 20 on Thursday, March 16, 2017. (Caitlin Mota | The Jersey Journal)
Fourth grade students in Jersey City displayed their prosthetic projects at School 20 on Thursday, March 16, 2017. (Caitlin Mota | The Jersey Journal)

JERSEY CITY - Fourth grade students are using 3D printers and their interest in technology to lend a helping hand -- literally -- to one of their schoolmates.

More than 150 students have spent the past six months designing and building prosthetic hands and tools for people that are missing part of their limb. With help from PicoTurbine and district STEM educators, the 9- and 10-year-old students spent more than 50 hours at work on the project.

On Wednesday morning, the students gathered at School 20 to display their printed hands and tools they designed as part of the district's E-Nable program. Their projects including different eating utensils and contraptions to help make everyday tasks similar for people with one hand.

The Prosthetic Experts, a four-girl team from School 5, took home first place and a brand new 3D printer from PicoTurbine. Amber Seniuk, Maab Iqbal, Sarah Nefzi, and Izraah Zafur designed a clip that attaches to the thumb of the prosthetic to easily hold a spoon or other small items.

"It was really hard to come up with an attachment for the prosthetic that actually worked," said Amber Seniuk, 10.

The hand the girls designed will now be completed with more technology to create a fully functional prosthetic. Once complete Chrystian Stephens, a second grade student at School 30, is going to be given the prosethic to use.

Chrystian was born without a hand. Standing a little nervous in front of more than 200 people, he delivered a short, but powerful message to the group gathered at the school.

"You worked super hard," he said to the older students. "Don't give up your dreams."

Chrystian's mother, Lorena Granda, said her son has had prosthetics in the past but none compare to what he's about to receive.

"It's amazing," she said. "It was very emotional, very exciting. We're so grateful to participate."

Darrell Carson, the science supervisor for elementary science in Jersey City, he's been trying to kick off the E-Nable program for several years. Seeing the students' work today, he said, was "a dream come true."

"This is a testing grade, they need to get interested in it," Carson said. "It also prepares them for college and career readiness." 

A full list of winners is below: 

Second place: MC^2 Enable Girls from School 17 - Nicole Conteras, Haley Estremera, and Nyla Sanchez

Third place: To Infinity and Beyond from School 27 - Thalita DeSousa, Samarth Kiran, Kiara Tejada, and Natalia Torres

Comfort: The Young Tinkers from School 17 - Arvine Balanzat, Alicia Duong, Michaela Fluellen, and Fatima Shakeel 

Usability: CAD Creators from School 38 - Mahendra Ghaness, Robin Wangai, Debo Beye, Akshay Harrybans, and Justin Seecheran

Ease to Make: KDM Engineers from School 17 - Malachy Castillo, Kristopher Henriquez, and David Ortaliz

Easy to fix: Hand Inventors from School 20 - Danicka Tenor, Riyanna Muldrow,
and Bryanah Tavares

Strongest Solution: Legends from School 38 - Matthew Normand, Sherly Orozco, and Shahzaib Yousuf

Innovative: The Team Tinkers from School 5 - Fatema Aly, Eza Iqbal, and Zeinub Khawaja

Design: The HACK from School 27 - Zoe Canizares, Erica Jachero, Dhruva Joshi, and Caleb Santiago

Outreach: Weird Science from School 30 - Nia Nichols and Farris Dardeer

Motivation: The Prosthectic Powerpuff Girls from School 27 - Mariam Ali, Livanessa Vasquez, Jocelyn Lopez, and Fatima Bamba

Caitlin Mota may be reached at cmota@jjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @caitlin_mota. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.