By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Students at Cherry Creek’s Horizon Community Middle School are designing and creating an artificial limb for a veteran who lost a leg. Their efforts are so impressive they won a statewide contest and are now finalists in the national competition put on by Samsung.

The challenge was to create a solution to a real problem in their community. In their Aurora neighborhood helping a disabled veteran made sense.

Visit the STEM classroom and you see dozens of kids intent on perfecting a prosthesis. The 12 to 14 year olds, in one of the district’s poorest communities, are using sophisticated software, tweaking designs, expanding ideas.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“They have a big dream,” said their applied science teacher Mel Possehl.

It started last spring. Students in Possehl’s Engineering Our World elective class had an idea. Their world includes nearby Buckley Air Force Base, so some kids asked to use their skills and technology to help veterans who had lost a leg.

“Actually, it hits pretty close to home for me because both of my parents are veterans,” said student Grayson Fast.

Kyle Kelly, a Marine Corps veteran, would be the recipient of the artificial leg. He told them what he needed.

Kyle Kelly (credit: CBS)

Kyle Kelly (credit: CBS)

“He wanted comfort and safety because the prosthetic he has now cuts the back of his leg,” explained student Maya Maxfield.

It’s been a lesson in limbs, but also a class in compassion.

“I would say the best part is just helping Kyle,” said student Simon Frimpong.

Possehl was so impressed by her students she entered the project in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition. Horizon won first place in Colorado. They are now one of 15 finalists in the nation and are vying to be in the Top 5 in the country.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Possehl is confident, “They’re going to go all the way, I know they will.”

The prize is $120,000 in Samsung technology. The accomplishment is priceless.

Possehl and two of her students will travel to New York City in mid-March to present their project to Samsung judges. But the public can weigh in by voting for the Horizon kids on Twitter and Instagram. Just use the hashtags #SamsungSolve and #SamsungSolveHMS.

Voting will be open until April 1, 2016 and the five national winners will be announced the following week.


Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.


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