Using 3D Printing & Digital Storytelling to Make a Difference

Eric Braun Blog

DSC_9403_preview_featured-LEFTImagine you did not have a functioning hand. What would you do? How would you overcome the obstacles presented by a world for people with two working hands? Those of us with two normal hands may never know what this is like, but you and your students now have an opportunity to help other kids and adults overcome these obstacles and learn cool things at the same time.

30hands Learning is partnering with the Enabling the Future initiative and schools to help those without hands overcome obstacles and to help students in grades K-12 learn cool things experientially while providing service to others.

The e-Nable initiative is a movement to create low-cost 3D-printed artificial hands for kids and adults who are missing hands, arms and fingers and could use a “helping hand”. It is supported by the Enable Community Foundation.

Our project is called “30hands for 3D Hands“, and our starting goal is to work with schools to create 30 hands for kids in need. The initial goal is modest so that it is achievable, but we expect it will grow exponentially. It all depends on how many schools participate. The opportunity to participate in “30hands for 3D Hands” helps schools provide students an experiential option for authenticity in learning, design and reflection. Your call-to-action is to engage your students and schools in these collaborative, experiential projects that help others. The benefits are unlimited.

Our role at 30hands Learning is to facilitate the learning process, remove obstacles, make connections and help fund the efforts.

Are you ready to sign up for this amazing experience?

How to Get Involved

It does not take much to get started. Just contact 30hands Learning about your interest via email.

  • You provide the 3D printer and the student teams.
  • 30hands Learning provides the facilitation, guidance and materials.
  • 30hands Learning donates 20% of the net sales of 30hands Pro to buy materials and fund support for the school projects. Excess funds go to the Enable Community Foundation.

Project Flow Overview

  1. Create a project and plan for students to create a 3D-printed test hand. We will help you figure this out and tie it into your curriculum!
  2. Using 30hands Pro (on the iPad and soon in the browser), students document their project start and design, along with the printing and build process.
  3. Submit the test hand with the 30hands video for review and approval.
  4. Receive a hand recipient and hand specifications.
  5. Modify the design as needed and print a hand.
  6. Using 30hands Pro, students document the printing and build process of the production hand.
  7. Students create a reflection video with 30hands Pro then send the video story and the final hand to the recipient.

Effective Project-Based Learning goes beyond just the project. The Buck Institute for Education defines a gold standard for PBL that includes 8 essential elements. One of those elements is Authenticity and another is Reflection. One of the things we strive for at 30hands is to engage students in experiential learning that covers all of the BIE essential elements. We also like to extend the Reflection component to the beginning of a project by including the students in the planning and design of the project with the teacher.[/su_note]

Authentic Learning is about relating the projects to the real world, real situations to explore and real problems to solve. The “30hands for 3D Hands” project helps real people in need.

Design and Reflection go hand in hand, the former being the thought that goes into a project and the latter being the thought that comes out of a project. When combined with iterations of review and revision – a combination that we like to call Iterative Creativity – they result in a Lean Startup approach to learning.


We hope you will consider upgrading to 30hands Pro in your school or district. Purchasing 30hands Pro helps us to fund this effort. We are putting 20% of the net sales towards it in 2015. Your help is greatly appreciated! Need More Info? Click here

With the upgrade, you get a more powerful app, too!

  • integration with Google Drive & Dropbox for easier publishing & sharing
  • 1-step importing of Google Slides to flip the classroom more easily
  • short Video Clips to demonstrate motion or spice up a presentation
  • Background Scenes & Patterns (v. 1.10.0 or later)
  • transitions, enhanced drawing and other new features are in the works
  • eligibility for phone support
  • discounted or free professional services (depending on district size)

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