Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Lesson Plans

3D printer technology gives girl her hand back

September 14, 2018

Full Lesson


Directions:  Read the summary below first, then watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To help students follow along, turn on the closed captions function marked “CC” or use the transcript.


Four-year old Ella Morton of Cincinnati, Ohio was born without bones in one of her hands. Through an innovative 3D printer program, students at the University of Cincinnati engineered a plastic prosthetic hand so that Ella can now play just like her sisters. A traditional prosthetic hand would have cost up to $10,000, but thanks to the organization, Enable, open source design provides a variety of cost-effective prosthetic assistive devices. Ella’s hand is provided to her family free of cost. Watch Ella’s story produced by Mary Williams, a Gwen Ifill Legacy fellow from Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati. 

Discuss questions as a class or with a partner or craft a written response.

1. Essential question: How have inventions affected the lives of those living with a disability?

2. What other problems might be solved through 3D-printing?

3. Jacob Knorr founded the EnableUC program to promote 3D-printing technology as a way to bridge the gap between engineering and medicine. What gaps do you think might exist between these two fields and why?

4. Do you know someone in your life who has been helped by an invention? What do you know about the invention that helped him/her? How could you find out, if you’re not sure?

5. How does empathy influence EnableUC’s work? If given the opportunity, what would you like to ask these young inventors?

Extension activity 


In the interactive lesson, Design Apps That Help Others and Build Empathy, (takes just a few seconds to sign up) students will discover how new apps are improving the lives of people with a disability or illness and helping to raise empathy. Through original student-produced videos via PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, students will learn about individuals who have overcome challenges and went on to help others. Then, students will use their knowledge of the invention process to invent their own app which addresses a problem facing their school or community.

Sign up for NewsHour Classroom’s ready-to-go Daily News Lessons delivered to your inbox each morning. To receive NewsHour’s monthly education newsletter click here. Write us with any questions, concerns or lesson ideas at