Sammy Nickalls
September 24, 2015 1:27 pm

Oak Harbor High School in Washington has a robotics club that has been working on a tap-dancing robot, a bicycle-powered water purifier, and a robotic decoy deer to help catch poachers. Rad, right? Well, now that group of students has created something that has changed the life of an 11-year-old girl forever.

Using a design from e-NABLE, a nonprofit that provides prosthetic designs to volunteers who can create them, the students in the club created a robotic arm for 11-year-old Jaelyn Crebbin, a sixth-grade student who was born without a left forearm or hand. The arm enables her to bounce a ball, hold a water bottle, and give a high five, according to Whidbey News-Times. . . and it’s even in her favorite color, purple.

“It’s pretty cool,” Jaelyn told King 5, grinning.

The arm was made using a 3-D printer and only about $30 in materials. It’s not meant to take the place of a traditional prosthetic, but is giving another option to those who can’t afford a traditional device — or children who are growing too fast to be able to use one. Now, the club is able to print devices like Jaelyn’s, thanks to a $2,000 3-D printer that the school received after applying for a grant.

“It’s starting to dawn on [the club] they did something really cool,” Oak Harbor robotics teacher and student mentor Che Edoga told Whidbey News-Times. “Having made that hand, they can see how it’s changed this person’s life. . . I want my kids to know engineering is about solving problems and they can get on their computer and solve them right now.”

Previously, people would stare at Jaelyn’s missing arm or ask her insensitive questions. A shy Jaelyn would stuff her arms into her sweatshirt to avoid questions and others’ gazes. “She’s not afraid of it, but people gave her pity and she never asked for that,” her father, Mike Crebbin — also a teacher at Oak Harbor High School — told Whidbey News-Times. “Now it’s ‘Look isn’t that neat,’ instead of, ‘Oh, that’s sad.’”

“People would usually ask what happened to my arm,” Jaelyn told King 5. “Now, they think it’s cool!”

The robotics team at Oak Harbor isn’t done with Jaelyn, though. They are currently working on another hand — one that will open and close with skin sensors that will respond to her through electrical impulses. They also want to add an Iron-Man-like light, just for fun. “That will be fun,” she told King 5. “I’m thankful to the robotics team.”

The new arm has helped Jaelyn come out of her shell, according to her mother, who works at the middle school she attends. “I saw her at school and it wasn’t this shy little girl,” said her mom. “She just had a big grin on her face.”

In fact, the arm has made Jaelyn super popular at school, and her sister wants a robotic addition of her own. “My sister asked the robotics team if they could make her a tail, like a cat,” Jaelyn told King 5.

All of the props and kudos to the Oak Harbor robotics club. It’s so amazing to see kids putting their brains together to make the world a better place — and that’s exactly what they’re doing.

(Image via Twitter.)

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