Words by Tess Becker
Sometimes it feels like devoted teenagers can change the world, and a few high school students did just that for a three-legged dog.
Practicing with a 3D printer, students wanted to help their middle school math teacher, Ashley Liberto, whose dog, Bentley, was diagnosed with cancer after a vet found soft tissue sarcoma in his right elbow.
Faced with the decision to put him down or amputate his leg, his owner chose amputation.
“I don’t have kids; he’s my child. It was terrible. It was emotionally exhausting. I was crying every night,” Ashley told People magazine.
After a successful surgery, Bentley was still happy and full of life but got tired more easily. That’s when Ashley had an idea to help students learn some real-5 applications for 3D printing. She wanted to see if any of her former students in an introductory computer-aided design and 3D-printing class could help her golden retriever.
She then reached out to a colleague that taught the course and they agreed.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for the students to see a real-world application for what they’re learning at school,” teacher Todd Johnson told People. “I knew once the students wrapped their heads around it, they would come up with designs that are viable solutions.”
And so the students split into small groups to hold a friendly competition to see who could make the best design for Bentley’s new leg.
Eventually, after the project concluded, some students worked on their own time to get the measurements just right Bentley came out with extra support and a whole new leg.
“Students are amazing,” Ashley said to WCNC. “They have such an imagination. They want to do big things in life.”