Article | Matt Petry, The Daily News

AES Fourth-Graders Build Model Prosthetics for Animals

Check out this article in the Daily News about how Amesbury Elementary School’s fourth-graders designed model prosthetics for wounded animals for their school’s STEM showcase!


By Matt Petry

The Daily News

Posted on November 28, 2022

AMESBURY — Amesbury Elementary School fourth-graders learned a little bit about being wildlife heroes when they designed model prosthetics for wounded animals for their STEM showcase.

STEM – an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics – has been a part of school curriculums for years and has seen a recent spike in popularity.

Students gathered in the school cafeteria Wednesday morning to present their projects – tasked with answering the question, “How do I design a model prosthesis to help an injured animal survive in its natural habitat?”

STEM coach Jennifer Donais said the students spoke to a professional before beginning work on their projects.

“They met with a veterinarian who does animal prosthesis and she was virtual, so she showed the kids around the hospital, showed them the animals, showed them the prosthesis that they use and the kids got to ask her questions,” Donais said. “Then, the rest of the day, the students got to make models of their prototypes for the animal prosthesis, and the conversations were amazing. They were talking about, ‘Well, the structure of this is too heavy, this won’t work for that animal. Is this comfortable for the animal?’”

Donais said three classes worked on the project, with stuffed animals used to model the injured animals, which included a turtle, robin, dolphin and an eagle. There were 12 groups, with each class having a group for each animal.

A few students working with the turtle shared their experience over the phone with The Daily News.

“We have a turtle here and it had no front flippers, and we had to build flippers to make it do all its functions and structures,” fourth-grader Ava Nash said. “It needs fins to function and do what it has to do, like dig and swim. So we had to make a turtle that can do all of that.”

Nash said it took a long time and trial and error, but they eventually got one working. Another member of the group, Eva Mentasti, made note of an important detail of their model prosthesis.

“It felt good because we didn’t just make the flippers, we made them waterproof for him so he can swim,” she said.

Fellow group member Sabrina Stanganelli said it was not all smooth sailing.

“When we got into the cafeteria to present to the third-graders, it kind of fell apart,” Sabrina said. “So we had to have tape and we were surprised that we actually got it fixed, and it was right on time, because that’s right when third-graders came in so we could present our things successfully.”

Ava said her group was proud of what they made.

“It felt really good. We were really surprised we could actually make it work because it was really hard to work on, and we only had a few hours since we did it yesterday all day,” she said. “And so we were all really surprised and we were all really proud of ourselves that we made a really good turtle with flippers.”


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