How middle schoolers and a 3D printer built this penguin a walking shoe.

What happens when a bunch of middle schoolers, an aquarium, and rad new technology get together to help a penguin? Answer: brilliant results.

GIF from 3D Systems/YouTube.


Purps, a 23-year-old African penguin, suffered an injury to her left leg in a spat with another bird back in 2011. She tore a flexor tendon, which is similar to a human tearing their Achilles tendon in their ankle, an injury that often affects walking.

Her caretakers at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, fashioned a makeshift boot out of moldable plastic to help her walk, but it was time-consuming to make and bulky. There had to be a better solution out there.

GIF from 3D Systems/YouTube.

When Kelly Matis, vice president of communications and conservation at the aquarium, learned that the local middle school had recently acquired a 3D printer, she realized it was the perfect opportunity for some community teamwork.

Enter the creative, genius students from Mystic Middle School.

After the aquarium reached out to the school, the kids came to meet Purps.

Image via 3D Systems/YouTube.

They knew they wanted to help her by using their 3D printer, but weren't exactly sure how to create the design.

Enter Connecticut-based 3D equipment and services company ACT, who initially supplied the school with their new printer.

ACT brainstormed a better-fitting, lighter boot design, then went back to the kids and taught them how to put the plan into action.

Mold of Purps' foot and ankle. Image via 3D Systems/YouTube.

“The students truly amazed us in how their creative thinking, imagination and intuitiveness led this process,” said Nick Gondek, director of additive manufacturing and applications engineer at ACT, in a statement.

Mystic Middle School kids. Image via 3D Systems/YouTube.

With the help and guidance of ACT, the students created a much more functional boot for Purps and even utilized a computer software program called Geomagic Sculpt to give it treads for traction.

Penguin-sized boot with traction. Image via 3D Systems/YouTube.

The students' innovative efforts alongside the help from ACT and the Mystic Aquarium resulted in this penguin walking up a storm.

Purps walks! Image via 3D Systems/YouTube.

The students were thrilled to get to see their work really make a difference.

It just goes to show that a little inspiration, creativity, and collaboration can help a penguin go a long way.

Check out Purps' whole story below:

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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