LOUISBURG, Kan. -- A high school junior has received a lot of attention recently for his ingenuity and his drive to do good. Mason Wilde has made local and national headlines for using a 3D printer to craft a mechanical hand that changed the life of a little boy. Mason continues to make news as our FOX 4 Young Achiever of the Week.
He's a brilliant all-around student, athlete and leader at Louisburg High School. And with a brain perfectly wired for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Mason never seems to stop dazzling his peers and teachers.
"We call that the whole package, yes," said Louisburg High School physics and engineering teacher Larry Shirk. "And he's got it all. He's a joy to work with."
Like when Mason led some other advanced engineering students at Louisburg High in building a robot that he demonstrated for FOX 4 News in a recent visit to school.
"We actually first built this out of free time, just for fun," said Mason. He had never built one before, but when he and his team got it done and decided to enter a major robotics competition at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS earlier this school year, they took home the grand prize.
"Other teams had different, possibly better designs, but we had practiced so much we had gotten pretty good at it," said Mason.
"I think it's just the exploration of the unknown," said Shirk about Mason's technical and creative drive. "He poses, I think, questions to himself of 'how does this work?' and 'why does this work?' And he pursues those answers to whatever length it takes."
Mason does a great deal of volunteer and community service work through organizations at Louisburg High. He has a strong desire, he says, even an obligation, to use his exceptional intellect and great talents to help other people make their lives better.
And that has put Mason in the national spotlight for both his brain and his heart. He made a mechanical hand for a family friend, a little boy born without fingers on one hand.
"When you twist your wrist, the strings pull and it closes the fingers," said Mason as he demonstrated the hand.
Mason found plans online and adapted them and beat a path to the Johnson County Resource Library in Overland Park to use its state-of-the-art 3D printer. Mason programmed the printer to create many of the small parts he needed and after just a few hours of assembly, voila! A cool mechanical hand for his young friend.
"Having the hand definitely has changed his life and given a unique aspect to himself," said Mason. "And the day I finally finished it all and he put it on for the first time and was able to just sit there watching his fingers move, it really, it brings a smile to your face and tears to your eyes to see somebody get something they hadn't had before in that sense."
And now Mason's looking forward to find other lives to change.
Mason reports that he's already started making other hands for his young friend and is experimenting with new designs. And he got his own 3D printer a few days ago. Meantime, he's setting up his own non-profit organization called Dextella to do his charitable work.
FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for
Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.