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Students showcase prosthetic hand

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Born without the use of his left hand, Shannon Kelly tests the prosthetic/robotic hand (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Students yesterday showcased a prosthetic hand developed during a summer camp that focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

The prosthetic hand, based on an open source design supported by the online e-nable community and created using 3D modelling and robotics, was assembled by the students attending Ascendant Group’s Stem Camp.

It was demonstrated by Shannon Kelly, who was born with amniotic band syndrome and does not have the full use of his left hand.

“Introducing the Stem students to the power of 3D printing and how the open source community improves the lives of others by literally give them a (prosthetic) hand, I believe is empowering for them,” said Mike Sinclair, a Belco mechanical engineer.

“From speaking with Mr Kelly, there are some improvements to be made, but I believe it should provide him more functionality with his left hand.

“He was able to pick up and hold a water bottle in his left hand while wearing the prosthetic hand, which the rest of us take for granted,” Mr Sinclair added.

The prosthetic hand is only one example of what the 42 students accomplished over two sessions of Stem camp — they also built a solar water heater and programmed their own robots. The camp was designed for students with a natural curiosity and proven aptitude for Stem subjects.

Belco chief operating officer Denton Williams said it was created three years ago when the company realised that there was an impending shortage of technically skilled personnel.

“So rather than continually recruiting overseas, we decided to develop them here as students,” he said.

While he expects the students to enter all sorts of professions, Mr Williams said the camp has given them the ability and confidence to pursue a technical career if they want to do so.

The students, aged between 12 and 14, were encouraged to solve problems, engage in critical thinking and enhance their research skills.

“I think camp was amazing,” said 11-year-old Nyle Trott, who wants to have a “job that involves maths” when he grows up.

Nyle thinks that what he learnt at camp will help him in the future and added that his favourite part visiting Oracle Team USA’s base in Dockyard.

This was also one of 12-year-old Oliva Burgess’ favourite experiences.

Olivia wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up and said “patience” was the most important thing she had learnt. For Ethan Sousa, who wants to be an aerospace engineer, the best part was programming Lego Mindstorms — kits containing software and hardware to create customisable, programmable robots.

The 12-year-old added that he “really enjoyed” the camp.

The camp was facilitated by instructor Shirley Kelley, who is passionate about problem-based learning and giving children the opportunity to work peer-to-peer to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Ms Kelly said the Island’s biggest asset is its human resource and developing a workforce for the 21st century will ensure Bermuda’s survival and competition on a global scale. She added that learning Stem subjects provides children with a skill set that is important in today’s world and that can be transferred to any job.Ms Kelly was assisted by Zeeko Johnstone, an engineering summer student who is studying mechanical engineering overseas.

Mr Johnstone, along with the company’s engineers in training, helped students explore how Stem components can shape career decisions and participated in the Stem curriculum and camp objectives.