Evie Blad at Education Week (a former ace reporter at the D-G) highlights three Armorel eighth-grade students who made a prosthetic foot with a 3D printer for a hobbled duck. The duck, named Peg, is suspected to have lost his foot after a nasty run-in with a turtle. Thanks to the students, he’s back to waddling on two feet. I’m having trouble getting the video to embed but KAIT did a story on it and you really have to watch.

Blad zooms out:


[T]he project also speaks volumes about how grounding classroom projects in a sense of purpose and relevance can help motivate students to stay engaged and learn new things. It’s something researchers are increasingly exploring as they search for ways to more thoroughly incorporate students’ emotions and development into education

The students, who attend Amorel High School in Mississippi County worked on the project all semester, after previously learning how to use a 3D printer in an Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) lab. The EAST initiative was founded in a single classroom in Greenbrier in 1996 and the model has now expanded to 200 classes in five states. It provides students with high-end technology to solve real-world problems. 

Blad reports:


It took 36 prototypes and a lot of failure to get to the exciting moment of seeing Peg walk on the little plastic footing, said Alicia Bell, who teaches the students in a project-based-learning class. But the students—who hadn’t been exposed to 3D printing technology until last year—were willing to persist because they had met a real, living thing that was dependent on their work, Bell said in an interview with Education Week.

Peg, a bit of a ham because he was he was rescued by humans so young, strutted around for the students when they were first introduced. And they noticed that, although he’d been making do without a foot, his stub was scabbed from being scraped on the ground as he walked.

“He’s a living thing, and we got to see his challenges,” Bell said, explaining why the students were so drawn to the project. “He had adapted, but he wasn’t living a full life.”

Much more, including adorable pictures, over at Education Week.