NEW HAVEN – Students in Andrea Barry’s third grade classroom at New Haven Elementary School were recently tasked with creating a prosthetic leg using their academic and life skills.
Barry’s blended-learning classroom environment allowed for students in small groups to consider each other’s ideas, collaborate and create a mock prosthetic leg using basic household materials.
After they had learned about animals and the human body in English language arts units, the third graders explored adaptions to help animals and humans thrive.
Brian Wilcox, father of Barry’s student Nick Wilcox, visited the classroom to speak about his experience with a prosthetic and how he is able to thrive with an alternative body component.
A friend of Barry’s happened to work in a prosthetic laboratory in Tennessee, so her students were able to view short videos of how prosthetics were made before they began work on their creations.
Plungers, cardboard, paper, tape and other materials were used to create customized prosthetic legs for their imaginary patients.
All students research the history of prosthetics and how far they have come throughout the years before they used math skills to measure materials, science skills to help figure out how and why the prosthetic would work and character education skills, such as empathy, to connect with their imaginary patient.
“I learned that it’s hard to get it to stand up straight,” said third grader Mattelyn Teifke.
The trial-and-error moments throughout the PBL, Barry said, is what led to victorious moments and cheers from her students.
They also felt a sense of pride and importance when they worked with Mexico High School Librarian Nicole Nicosia, who had agreed to 3D print a prosthetic hand for Barry’s students to assemble.