Build a Prosthetic Arm out of Cardboard
Hosted by: UT Austin Santacruz Lab
Visit our Booth: Sunday, February 28, 2021, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Recommended Grades: 6th, 7th, 8th
A prosthetic is an artificial body part (limb). Two common types of prosthetics are prosthetic arms and prosthetic legs. A prosthetic arm allows people with a missing arm to pick up objects, drink water, give their friend a hi-five, and much more. A prosthetic leg allows people with a missing leg to walk, kick a soccer ball, go hiking, and much more. Prosthetics help people with missing limbs regain their independence. Isn't that awesome?!
How does someone with a prosthetic arm control their arm and finger movements? A prosthetic arm does not act like a real arm without the help of the brain! The brain sends signals to the prosthetic arm just like it would with a real arm. The prosthetic arm receives the brain signals and performs the action that the brain tells it to perform. For example, wiggle your fingers. Your finger movements are controlled by your brain. When someone with a prosthetic arm wiggles their fingers, their prosthetic fingers are also controlled by the brain. Cool right? This allows people with prosthetic arms to shake hands, wrap their fingers around a cup, and wave hello- just like you and me!
Today you will be building your own prosthetic arm! Your brain will send signals to your real arm and your real arm will then control the prosthetic arm.
Build a prosthetic arm using cardboard, straws, and string! Try using your prosthetic hand to pick up different objects in your home such as a tennis ball, a pencil, a plastic cup, a toy. Can you make a peace sign with your prosthetic fingers? Can you count to 5 on your prosthetic fingers? Try shaking hands and giving someone a hi-five. Draw on your prosthetic arm and use different colored string to make it unique. Have fun!
Note: DO NOT pick up sharp objects, glass, or easily breakable objects. Make sure to pick up safe objects only. Try picking up objects while sitting on the floor.
- Scissors (Please only use scissors to cut the cardboard. It is much safer and the cardboard should be easy to cut!)
- String/ Thread (thicker string/thread will be stronger)
- Example: Thread from Amazon
- Plastic Straws
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks for the glue gun
See "Tutorial" below. Share your final design on Flipgrid.
- Follow this tutorial to make your very own prosthetic arm.
- Use scissors only!
- If you cannot draw a hand, trace your hand instead (but make sure that the fingers aren't too thin)!
- Draw artwork on your prosthetic arm and use different colored string to make it unique! Have fun!
Share your final design on Flipgrid.
How does this activity connect to STEM and today's Girl Day theme of Improving Lives: Mind, Body, Medicine?
Engineers and doctors work together to design prosthetic limbs. Prosthetic limbs help people with missing body parts to move more like they used to. Additionally, prosthetic limbs help people move more independently. For example, prosthetic legs make mobility easier, allowing someone with a prosthetic leg to go for a walk or run as part of their daily exercise.