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Instead of ant farms and volcanoes, two southwest students decided to take it up a notch at the Swift Current science fair as they built a prosthetic arm.

Sophia Antoniuk is a Grade 11 student in Hazlet, and along with her partner for the fair, Braelynne Heck, a Grade 12 student in Hazlet, they made the prosthetic arm using a 3D printer and some spare parts.

Antoniuk said they wanted to make a prosthetic arm that didn't cost an arm and a leg for the public.

"Well, we wanted to make a prosthetic arm that was available to the general public and wouldn't cost as much on the market as the ones on the market do," she said. "The kind of prosthetic that we made can be upward of like $20,000, and we managed to make ours for $230."

She said the arm took about three months to build and is made out of parts they borrowed from their science teacher and 3D printed parts at the Swift Current Branch Library.

Antoniuk said before they built the hand they knew nothing about robotics or computer programming.

"We had no background information on this at all," she said. "We read a couple of books on it but other than that we learned everything on the go."

Antoniuk talked about how their hand works.

"It's a Mio-electric prosthetic," she said. "It runs using muscle movements so when you flex a muscle, an electoral gradient is created on your stump, and the sensor picks it up, and then it sends it up to the circuit board which tells the hand to move."

She added that they used a basic computer program with a list of basic commands to tell the hand to make a fist.

Antoniuk said part of the reason they decided to build the hand was because of the how big of a role robotics could play in their futures.

"We see robotics being part of both our futures," she said. "Both my partner and I want to pursue wildly different careers, but robotics is going to be such a big part of it that we wanted to get caught up with the new technology."

Antoniuk added that they would like to continue working on the arm, and see if they can improve upon it.

"We'd love to continue with our project because at the moment only two of the fingers are functioning because with the library we're using we can only hook up two servos and we need five to be able to move all the fingers."

Antoniuk will get her wish as both her and her partner won the Swift Current science fair and will now move onto Nationals in Ottawa, where they will compete against 500 students.

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