By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For many high school students, science isn’t exactly considered “cool”. It is for friends Maddie Mills and Brette Pettet.

“I guess we’re a little different,” Mills said.

The two Shattuck St. Mary’s juniors designed prosthetics as part of their school’s engineering program. It was a prosthetic hand that caught the attention of another staff member last year.

“Was walking through with her children and they know a girl in their class who was born without her hand,” Pettet said.

Elizabeth Stroh, 14, was born without much of her left hand. The 8th grader and her family met the two high schoolers for the chance to have a new one made at no cost.

“Super sweet girl,” Mills said. “But you could tell she was lacking confidence, as when she came in she hid her arm.”

Now Mills and Pettet are in the middle of a nearly two-year science project to give Stroh that confidence.

The final design, expected to be finished next year, will be made with aluminum and have a smartwatch that displays control options. The girls have been working on the prototype along with Stroh’s input the entire semester. Mills and Pettet, both 17, also juggle school, working, and winning national hockey championships.

“It is a lot,” Pettet laughed.

There is one thing the girls and their engineering professor, Mike Boone, aren’t worried about with the project.

“Knowing that we have an impact on someone else’s life is huge,” Mills said.

Giving a new hand to a girl without one, and a hand to girls everywhere, to make science cool.

“I think this helps encourage young females to get involved with engineering,” Pettet said.

“The potential is amazing with these girls,” Boone said. “Can do anything they want.”

Mills and Pettet have already been accepted to colleges to play hockey. Mills will attend Cornell University, while Pettet will go to the University of Wisconsin.

Kate Raddatz