5th graders give a helping hand to student born without one

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HUMBLE, Texas-- A group of elementary school students put their education to good use by designing and building a prosthetic hand for a fellow student.

Lakeshore Elementary school first grader, Joshua Shanks, was born without a left hand, so when the school's fifth grade class was learning about 3D printing and looking for a project to take on, they didn't have to look far.

Fifth grader Mehkhi Blue was the first to suggest the idea.

"Mehkhi immediately thought of Joshua in first grade and that he didn't have a hand," said Lakeshore Elementary teacher Carolyn Winters. "He wanted to help him out so the group asked me if they could build him a hand."

Before she approved the idea, Winters wanted to talk to Joshua's mother about it.

"Ms. Winters had pulled me into the classroom and asked if Joshua would be ok with the fifth graders doing that," said Joshua's mom Heather Shanks. "I thought that was a pretty big thing for kids that young to do and I thought he'd be excited."

The fifth grade students teamed up with E-nable, an online community committed to helping patients design and 3D print their own robotic limbs. Using an open source design, the students were able to create the fully-functioning hand for Joshua. When it came to the hand's design, Shanks had only one request.

"We were looking on the internet and they had different kinds of hands," said Blue. "We saw people had like Superman hands, Batman hands, so we asked him what do you want for your hand and he said Spider-Man."

Now, just like the Spiderman theme song says, Joshua can do everything a spider can too. Well, maybe not all that web slinging and swinging through the streets stuff. Still, thanks to his new hand Joshua will get to experience some things like never before.

"He's now throwing balls and playing with legos, it's kind of cool," said Blue.

The coolest part of the whole thing may just be the kind of impact a group of students can have when they reach out and give a helping hand.