e-NABLING Education • “Hands-On” S.T.E.M. Based Learning Projects

Students crowd around their school’s 3D printer to learn more about 3D printing! Please click the image to visit Ultimaker.com for more information on purchasing a 3D printer for your classroom!

In classrooms all around the world, children of all ages are standing shoulder to shoulder and balancing precariously on tip toes to see above their peers to crowd around 3D printers to watch brightly colored fingers form on the print bed. They are eager to peel the parts away from their support materials and start working together to assemble their very first 3D printed e-NABLE hand that will hopefully find it’s way to a child somewhere else in the world, who is in need of an assistive device.

Students are excited to be using new technology for solving real world problems and to take part in making a difference in someone’s life.

In the past year, the e-NABLE Community has grown by leaps and bounds, with dozens of schools participating in this project. Many of these schools have incorporated the e-NABLE hand design and assembly into their S.T.E.M. based learning courses.

Some schools, like Crossroads Intermediate School, have gone above and beyond the creation of 3D printed hands – to helping provide valuable tools gifted back to the e-NABLE Community that can be used by other schools and makers who are interested in participating as well.

Teacher Chris Craft, shares their story: “Our introduction to S.T.E.M. class has figured out that education is more genuine and fulfilling when we focus on helping others.

When we first got a 3D printer, we quickly learned how to print out trinkets from the web. Our focus quickly turned towards a search for something more meaningful, and that is when we discovered e-NABLE. We printed and delivered our first hand in November 2014 for a young lady named Alyssa in Charleston, SC.


After meeting Alyssa and seeing how she used the hand, we officially launched our “Prosthetic Kids” program. Currently, more than 100 students are directly involved in the production, assembling and finishing of 3D printed hands. In May of 2015, we won the Belk Service Learning Challenge award for our work and were featured in local and national news stories such as People.com. Also in May, we held a hand-a-thon, assembling 24 hands in one day!


Students and teachers at the Hand-A-Thon event sponsored by Discovery Education and The Belk Service Learning Challenge in Columbia, S.C., Friday, May 29, 2015. (Photo/Bob Leverone)
Students and teachers at the Hand-A-Thon event sponsored by Discovery Education and The Belk Service Learning Challenge in Columbia, S.C., Friday, May 29, 2015. (Photo/Bob Leverone)

As the new school year dawned and a new group of students eagerly entered Introduction to S.T.E.M. class, the energy and desire to impact the world was palpable. As a result of unparalleled student passion, we launched Handchallenge.com, a site where we are challenging every school, makerspace and person with a 3D printer to print and assemble ONE 3D printed hand and send it to us.

We also produced a series of assembly videos that are bite-sized and kid-friendly to make the process easier.”

(You can see these tutorials below!)

Build a Raptor Reloaded Hand Tutorial Set – English
Build a Raptor Reloaded Hand Tutiroal Set – Spanish
Intro To 3D Printing

Chris goes on to share a bit more about his classroom and students, “Sixth grade students find life to be a delicate balance between trying to blend in and stand out at the same time. Earlier this year, I met a very quiet young lady who was by all accounts a typical student. It turns out that she happens to be bi-lingual and she translated our series of Raptor Reloaded Assembly videos into Spanish for us! It’s been wonderful to see her come out of her shell with this project and contribute in a way no one else can!

My students are learning that it’s not about “US.” The best part of the project isn’t the increased S.T.E.M. engagement (which is absolutely true) or the critical thought around the design and assembly of the hand (which is clearly evident), it’s that they are coming together to make someone else’s life better.

As I look at the nearly 30 completed e-NABLE hands sitting mere feet from my desk, I am reminded of the smiles, laughter and collaboration that made them possible. Kids realize their true potential when they are working for the joy of others.

I’m fortunate to work in a school and school district that is supportive of this project. In addition, I get to teach the most amazing students in the world and I’m so thankful for their big hearts!”

What do these students plan to do next?

They are working on creating two arms to test their abilities to print and assemble the two current e-NABLE arm designs and plan to produce another set of instructional videos for the Raptor Reloaded – this time in Portuguese!

These students are also more than happy to help mentor other classrooms and hope to help start a mentorship program to guide other schools who are just starting out! Please feel free to contact them through their website Handchallenge.com!

This is a perfect example of how students and schools as well as individuals, have taken this project and made it so much more than just using their 3D printers to make hands and arms for those in need…

The possibilities are endless!

If you are a teacher or student who would like to participate in our first CREATE T.I.M.E. Design contest – please visit our contest page HERE!

*If you are a school in need of a 3D printer and would like more information on Ultimaker printers for the classroom, please visit their website HERE.

Leave a Reply