How Sixth Graders Created a Prosthetic Leg for a Dog Hit by a Car

It was a bad case of puppy love earlier this year when Kristi Pardo, a special education teacher at Sebastian Middle School in St. Augustine, Fla., met Snoopy, a 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier/dachshund mix.

The little dog, who had been abused by his former owner, had been taken in by S.A.F.E. Pet Rescue after he was hit by a car. Sadly, Snoopy’s front right leg was so badly injured that it had to be amputated. Pardo adopted him with the hopes of getting him a prosthetic leg to help increase his mobility.

Soon Pardo had a lightbulb moment: Creating a prosthetic leg for Snoopy would be an excellent project for Sebastian Middle School’s new Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) program, which was launched this year to help build students’ creative and problem-solving skills.

Jessica Brown, who heads the school’s STEAM program, agreed that it was a wonderful idea, especially since she just happened to be teaching sixth graders about computer design.

Pardo brought Snoopy to school and introduced him to the students in Brown’s three sixth-grade classes. “It was a quiet hush and then an overwhelming, ‘Aw,’ like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is so cool,” Brown told First Coast News.

Although Pardo affectionately calls her dog “Snoopy Tripod Sir Hobblesworth,” the loss of a leg apparently hasn’t slowed him down at all.

“He likes to escape and I really can’t catch up to him,” Pardo told First Coast News. “So hopefully the design that the kids have made will have a brake or something on it to slow him down because I don’t want him to be any faster.”

After meeting Snoopy, the students went to work on designing prototypes for his prosthetic leg.

They spent a month researching possible models and materials, then drafted templates using 3D digital design software. Employees from Northrup Grumman’s innovation department stopped by to advise the students and help them improve their designs.

Brown said most of the students’ designs have wheels, while others have a spring, “so maybe he could hop a little bit more instead of push,” she told First Coast News. Due to Snoopy’s abusive past, the students are making sure the prosthetic makes no noises that could startle him.

Classmates Hyde Kenney and Henry Benoit designed one of the prosthetics with a wheel. It attaches to a harness with a cuff. “We noticed how he was hobbling around and he didn’t have a full shoulder blade, so we thought something would have to keep it in place,” Kenney told the St. Augustine Record.

Another group designed a prosthetic that has a spring and two wheels, so Snoopy “maybe doesn’t put too much pressure on his other front leg,” sixth-grader Justin Bailey told the St. Augustine Record. One of his teammates, Juliana Francis, added that padding would be attached to the harness to prevent any uncomfortable friction when Snoopy is walking.

The next step was to create physical prototypes of the three best designs from each class, which was accomplished with polylactic acid used in 3D printers. Snoopy is joining many other animals who have been helped thanks to 3D printing.

A veterinarian will determine which of the prosthetic legs is best for Snoopy. Pardo will then bring her dog back to school to show off his new leg.

She hopes Snoopy’s story will inspire people to help with pet rescues. “We definitely have a problem with abandoned dogs and strays, so I think adoption is the way to go because they all just want loving homes,” she told First Coast News.

Sebastian Middle School’s STEAM students are an inspiration as well, using their big hearts and sharp minds to help make life better for Snoopy.

“It makes you feel really good to help an animal with something as simple as a school project,” Kenney told the St. Augustine Record.

It also makes you feel really good about what the future holds for these compassionate sixth graders.

Photo credit: Pezibear

111 comments

Danuta W
Danuta W4 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Ingrid A
Ingrid A4 months ago

Very good. Thanks.

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R4 months ago

Nicole Heindryckx i agree
💕.Faith in the human race restored for today :)

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckx5 months ago

@ John Casablanca : Certainly I see the future more and better in their hands and in those of the U.S. President. I am sure that he never was that compassionate and empathic... Even think that NOW, he does not know what these words mean :-)

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx5 months ago

@ Anne M : What I was doing as a 6th grade student ?? Well I had a sister of 6 years and a brother of 3 years.. You certainly can guess what I was doing most of the time. And to be sure that I would not get annoyed, my mother gave me some knitting work as well. I had not a "luxury" childhood or youth. So, it was working, working and working somewhat more. The very rare days that I was free, I ran outside, looking for all kind of bugs, grasshoppers and other insects. In spring, I went looking for frogs and their offspring. Sometimes, I took an empty jar of jam with me and filled it with water and the frog-spawn. I took it to our class room and we waited until they hatched, when I returned them into the pool. Or I went to the farmer, to be with his heavy labor horse, and caressed it. Animals always have gotten my full attention, and still do.

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx5 months ago

First of all : THANKS SO MUCH to Kristi Pardo and Jessica Brown !! This is what education is all about. To apply in practice what they learned in books. You can study 10 books, but when you can not "make" something useful with all this knowledge, you have achieved NOTHING. These young people now have the opportunity to work in TEAM, also very important for the future, and make a device that would help a disabled little dog to walk & move easier and quicker than otherwise. So, their compassion and empathy for animals is stimulated as well. I hope other technical schools will take this as an example and make other devices to help either animals or disabled people, who in turn would have a better life. Really a most WONDERFUL STORY !! Will these young people make this world a better place to live on ?? I certainly hope so. Our generation has accomplished a lot, no doubt about it, but we have RUINED so many more necessary and irreplaceable things...
Snoopy has a wonderful live lying ahead of him and I am quite sure that some students will visit him from time to time. Give these young people a goal, and they will go for a better world, than we have done so far. I hope the project will be a big success for Snoopy and wonder if we could see a photograph of him, and the students, in a further article.

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Kathleen E
Kathleen E5 months ago

Such a great, heartwarming story!

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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