High School students build prosthetic hand for girl

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A high school engineering course is doing more than just teaching students about 3D printing. It's making a huge difference in the life of one little girl.

In April, we told you how students at Booker T. Washington High School were using a 3D printer to make a new prosthetic hand for six year old Gracie. Monday they gave her the hand, and we were there for the heartwarming moment.

"It feels good," Gracie said moments after she put the hand on for the first time.

She was born missing part of her left arm and hand. But her parents say they've never treated her any different than their other children.

"We just raised her to teach her to tie her shoes just like the other ones, and she plays outside with the same toys that any other kid plays with," said her father Mike Henderson.

She grew out of her previous prosthetics, and hasn't used one in three years. But earlier this year, the students in Dr. Le's engineering class at BTW chose her to receive the one they set out to build. They did it all on a 3D printer invented by Lael Alexander.

"When we did the first one we didn't imagine what other people would be using it for," Alexander says.

But he says he couldn't be happier to see students use his invention like this.

"We always knew there were socially responsible ways of doing designs for other people that they can use this type of technology and create solutions for people like the Gracie Project."

Mike Henderson says any parent just wants to see their kids happy. Her joy on this day came in the form of high-fiving her parents and holding a cell phone in her new hand.

"She's going to be able to do a lot of stuff as she learns how to manipulate it and work it. It's gonna be interesting around the house."

One of the first things on her agenda is something she's always wanted to do: "I'm gonna pick apples a lot," Gracie said.

"We'll have to find an apple tree, but we'll find one somewhere," her father added.

Gracie got this amazing gift on her father's birthday. He says seeing her get this new hand was the best birthday gift.

There will have to be some minor tweaks to the hand, but the class will be right there to make those adjustments as Gracie needs them.

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