Empowering students through science

San Antonio School of Science and Technology has created a system that engages their students with projects that are impactful to their community through science.


San Antonio School of Science and Technology has created a system that engages their students with projects that are impactful to their community through science.

Here's the story.

At San Antonio School of Science and Technology, they're not only educating students in science, technology, engineering and math.

They're empowering students to create projects that are changing lives.

Let's go inside a computer lab and learn more.

We focus on projects that will educate our students on various aspects at the same time, and we also believe strongly in giving back to your community.

That's why we do require 100 hours of community service from all of our students as a graduation requirement.

This combination of STEM education and community service recently helped a 6-year-old boy from Cibolo, Texas, named Zack, who was born with an underdeveloped right hand.

The school's 3-D printer was used to create a prosthetic hand for Zack, which the school provided at no charge.

Well, 3-D printer is a great invention that came about semirecently.

What it does is it takes a resin polymer, and it melts that down and lays it down in very thin amounts so that it can build up whatever design you kind of AutoCAD design using Google SketchUp or any other AutoCAD design on the computer, and it builds it up using the filament, and so what we were able to do specifically with this hand project is take a prosthetic hand.

If you go and buy that from a prosthetic-hand company, you're going to pay thousands and thousands of dollars, I mean, $35,000 easily for a prosthetic hand.

For one that doesn't have the skin tone or anything, very simple prosthetic, that might cost you 10,000 to 15,000.

With the 3-D printing technology the way it is today, we're able to print one of these 3-D hands for about $35 but certainly under $50.

Tenth-grader Justin Cantu worked with his technology instructor to create Zack's prosthetic hand.

He showed me how the 3-D printer works.

So this is the actual 3-D printer that you used to 3-D print Zack's prosthetic hand?


This 3-D printer we used, and we programmed his customized measurements on the printing software just to fit him perfectly, and it can be changed at any time it needs to be, and this, using the 3-D printer is a lot cheaper than, you know, going to the hospital and getting a customized $13,000 limb.


And anyone can do this, and it inspires young kids like me to help the community and help anybody they need to.

How long did it take from idea to printing the component parts of the 3-D hand to having it completed?

How long was that?

To print out all the pieces, I'd say about 2 days, 3 days, and to build it, maybe two again or three.


So it can be done in a week.

Yes, definitely.

This isn't the exact one that we gave to Zachary, of course, but this is one that is the same model as the one that we did make for Zack.

You can see that it's 3-D printed, so it's all that injection polymer.

You can tell that it's held together with rubber bands and strings that are attached to this wristlet piece.

So the child hand would come in through this wrist portion, and then, by bending their wrist, it will close and open the hand, and that's how they're going to be able to manipulate objects is by actually bending their wrist down to grip that object.

So I was fortunate enough to be at the first face-to-face meeting between Justin and Zack, and the thing that struck me most is just the look in both their eyes.

You know, Zack saying, 'Oh, I'll remember you forever,' and Justin had the look in his eyes that I knew meant that he's found his true calling, and he feels like he truly values biomedical engineering and everything.

So I know that, you know, it's going to be one of those big inspirational moments for him to go forth and do bigger, better things for this world, you know, doing engineering and prosthetics and things of that nature.

So I was really happy not only to see, of course, the look in the eye of Zack, who was happy to have a hand and was playfully picking things up on the table and everything, very excited, but also to know that Justin, one of our own students, is sharing in that experience, and that's going to be a lifelong memory for him to help him to remember to value, you know, helping your community and paying it forward.

When I first met him, I was overcome with happiness, and I didn't expect to feel so...just overwhelmed with feelings and emotion because, you know, I'd never met Zack before.

I've only seen him in a picture, and when I first met him, I felt like I've known him for years, and I first saw him, you know, use a hand and use both hands, and it was a great touch to my heart, and it really, you know, opened a door to me of seeing what I really want to do with my life.

The moment wasn't only emotional for Justin, but also his teacher, Murat Soruc.

Actually, I don't know if there's a word to explain that, but it was most happy moment in my life and for my student also, the others also.

He just used it.

He just started to use it.

He started to grab the things, everything.

When I see he started to use it, it was perfect moment for me.

Before I attended this school, I wanted to be a chef.

[ Chuckles ] I like cooking, but being exposed to technology and more of a science-y aspect of the workforce, it's really opened my eyes to what I have the opportunity to do and help people, and now what I want to do is become a medical engineer and help people with other prosthetic limbs and help them, you know, overcome an accident that's happened to them.