LEANDER, Texas -- Two-year-old Zaxton can go nearly anywhere on two hands, two feet, or on the shoulders of his big brother Christian. If you take a closer look at Zaxton, you will see this little boy is missing three fingers on his left hand.
Christian decided to reach out to Herb Wasson, his former Leander High School robotics teacher, for help.
“A former student of his came in wanting to print a hand that was already designed by a man in South Africa, but Mr. Wasson, our teacher, gave him a better idea,” said Leander High School junior Jacob Ostrander.
Instead of a premade design for an adult, Wasson thought why not create a new design made specifically for Zaxton?
“It was an adult-sized hand. Maybe a teenager could use it - maybe down to 12 - but for someone as small as Zaxton, I didn’t think it was going to work,” Wasson said.
That’s when he asked three of his students - James Bell, Lexi Wilson, and Jacob Ostrander - to step up and create a whole new design.
“I started to learn how to use the program really fast, and I started designing things that were on the notebook, so we came up with this first prototype,” said junior James Bell.
Beginning in December, James, Lexi, and Jacob spent countless hours perfecting the design.
“There were times that James would stay until six in the afternoon after school and Jacob would be here at seven in the morning,” said junior Lexi Wilson.
The first 3D printed hand was too big, and it was followed by several others.
"The next one we got it working, we got it figured out, and now we just needed to improve it,” Bell said.
Five attempts to perfect the hand later and “all he has to do is bend his wrist a little, and it curls the fingers," Bell said.
Zaxton was born with what’s called cleft hand, meaning he only developed a thumb and a pinky on his left hand.
“Right now he only has a crab motion, closing his thumb and pinky together,” Wilson said.
Their prosthetic will give him full use of his hand.
“We still want him to be able to use his hand, but he’ll be able to pick up a variety of different objects,” Wilson said.
Wilson tells WFAA sister station KVUE that the team still has plans to keep making it better.
“We started this for him and we want to end it for him. We want it to fit him correctly and be what he wants and something he wouldn’t be ashamed to wear," Wilson said.
They aren’t doing it for class credit, and these high school students never expected to win the Skills USA State Competition, but they did. Now this team of three is preparing to compete against teams from all over the country for Skills USA Nationals in June.
Win or lose, these high school kids say they’re doing this for one reason.
“For me, it was seeing Zaxton’s reaction when we would give him his new hand,” Wilson said.
“The feelings you get whenever Zaxton puts on the new hand and he’s like, 'Oh I love this,' and he starts playing around - it’s just so much fun,” Ostrander said.
"Knowing that I could help Zaxton have a better, happier life is really, really important to me,” Bell said.
To compete at nationals in Kansas City, Missouri, in June, the students need financial help.
Leander ISD is giving $500 toward each student, but the trip is a week long, and it costs an additional $850 per student.
To raise the additional $2,550, the students have started a donation fund. Go here to donate, and to help them achieve their dreams of going to nationals.