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Engineering & Design: Mechanical Hands

Kit #490S

In this multi-day activity, students use the approach of biomimicry to design, test, evaluate, and redesign a mechanical gripping device to meet criteria. Working in small groups, students use the engineering design process to design a mechanical grabber that can pick up and move an object. They then use an iterative process to optimize the device in one of two ways. In doing so, they investigate the relationship between structure and function of the device and how the technology they developed can be applied.

Details at a Glance

  • 1-2 Days | 1-2 ~50 minute class periods
  • 2 Activities
  • Accommodates 1 class, with 8 groups of 4 students
  • Consumables service 32 students
  • Meets our criteria for supporting literacy
  • Developed in partnership with SEPUP

Scientific Concepts

Performance Expectation
• MS-ETS1-4
• MS-ETS1-1
• MS-ETS1-3
Disciplinary Core Ideas
• MS-ETS1.A Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
• MS-ETS1.B Developing Possible Solutions
• MS-ETS1.C Optimizing the Design Solution
• MS-LS1.A Structure and Function
Science and Engineering Practices
• Asking Questions and Defining Problems
• Developing and Using Models
• Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
• Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
Crosscutting Concepts
• Structure and Function
• Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology
• Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World
KEY VOCABULARY: function, model, optimize, robotics, structure, variable

Guides & Student Sheets

Our kits and modules provide you with everything you need so you can open, review, and teach the material confidently the next day.

  • Full downloadable Teacher Guide with background information, detailed instruction, example data and answers
  • Downloadable Student Sheets with age appropriate background information, full procedure(s), and analysis questions
  • All materials necessary to carry out the investigation
  • Safety Data Sheets

Kit Components

  • 16 plastic eggs
  • 8 cylindrical containers
  • 32 index cards
  • 50 straws
  • 1 roll of masking tape
  • 1 roll of filament tape
  • 1 roll of packing tape
  • 1 roll of trtansparent tape
  • 1 roll of string
  • 16 15-cm rulers
  • 32 Student Worksheet and Guides
  • 1 Teacher's Guide
  • Not included and needed for instruction: 8 rolls of pennies, 16 pair scissors, assortment of masses (5-40 g).