A co-educational private school for Preschool–Grade Eight

Grade 6 Engineers Prosthetic Hands

Grade 6 students engineered their own prosthetic hand designs using the Design Thinking Process. Sixth graders study the human body throughout the entire year and recently began to focus on bone and muscle. The first step in Design Thinking is to empathize with your user. To that end, Science Teacher Julie Blanco first showed students a video of Zion Harvey, the first child to receive a pediatric bilateral hand transplant.

After they watched the video, students entered the Define stage of Design Thinking. This is where the students put together the information they have created and gathered during the Empathise stage. In the Define stage, you will start to progress to the third stage, Ideate, by asking questions that can help you look for ideas for solutions. During the third stage of the Design Thinking process, designers are ready to start generating ideas. Students began to understand Zion and his needs in the Empathise stage, analyzed and synthesized their observations in the Define stage, and ended up with a human-centered problem statement. With this background, students could start to "think outside the box" to identify new solutions to the problem statement they've created, and they can now begin to look for alternative ways of viewing the problem. 


This led students to step four in the Design Thinking Process, Prototype. Students created their thoughtful prototypes to problem-solve for this inspiring young man. 

In the final step of the Design Thinking Process, students put their prototypes to the test. 

Some sixth-grade students shared their reflections and thoughts on the lesson below:

At the age of two, Zion had developed an infection requiring both of his hands and legs to be amputated. This infection also had damaged his kidney, and he had received a transplant from his mother. Then when his legs got removed, they replaced them with prosthetic legs. After getting prosthetic legs, he was able to run and jump again. When he was about eight years old, the nurses had found a matching pair of hands for him. This was a hard decision, but Zion and his parents decided to do the hand transplant. This was a very dangerous procedure because adults' blood vessels are already small; however, an eight-year-old blood vessel is even smaller. This surgery was about 6-8 hours long. Zion taught us that no matter what, everyone is unique in many different ways. People should be very thankful if they have hands and feet. It was very brave of Zion to get surgery on his hands. It would take a lot of convincing for me to do this surgery. Zion is now doing physical therapy to learn how to walk and eat again, his hands are growing with him, and now he is about 13 years old. After hearing Zion's story, I am very grateful for having hands and feet, and I will not take them for granted.

In science class this year, we are learning about the human body. We've learned about the eye, muscles, and bones. So it makes sense that we also learn the hand. This video was pretty educational because Zion was the first person to undergo a pediatric bilateral hand transplant, and this can help us learn about the many different bones, veins, and muscles when they are doing the surgery. It was pretty amazing that not only was Zion the first person to undergo a pediatric bilateral hand transplant, but the world got to see it and learn from him. We can achieve many things from simply learning from Zion, and I have learned a lot. Not only about the hand, but about character itself and science as a whole. I learned to be like Zion and about the surgery. He is a resilient, persevering person, and we should learn that from him. He is now 13 and his hands are developing with his body! Zion is an extremely brave kid that I admire.

One of the things that sets Zion apart from the rest of the world is not his hands. It's his attitude. He knew that something could go wrong, and he was incredibly brave about it. He seems to always have a smile on, and he is a great person for other kids with disabilities to look up to. Zion is an influential person who has changed people and their mindsets. I think that everyone should have such an optimistic attitude like him.