I love to get kids engaged with hands-on projects that combine various subjects. In this easy-to-do activity, we combine engineering & anatomy.
The first time I came across this project was in my senior AP anatomy class (definitely one of the hardest classes I had in high school). We were discussing the numerous parts of the human hand. We learned there are 27 bones, 34 muscles, 27 joints, and over 100 tendons & ligaments! It was a lot to remember.
However, when my teacher had us do this project, it became much easier for us to understand how such a complex system worked together in a simple, mechanical fashion.
There are many variations of this project online, and I would encourage you to explore these options with your students or children to see what else you can incorporate as a part of your lesson or activity.
For my students, I really like the instructions by Kto6Science on Instructables for a quick 45-minute activity that has some tips on building this project.
Adult supervision recommended for younger children
Cardstock or thin cardboard
Tape or hot glue
Scissors and/or safety blade
Pencil or marker
5 Keyrings (optional)
Step 1: Trace your hand on the cardstock or cardboard & cut out the outline
Step 2: Draw lines for your finger joints
Step 3: Fold along each joint line
Step 4: Cut the straws into small pieces
The pieces should be just shorter than the distance between the joint lines.
Make 5 longer pieces that point from the bottom joint of each finger towards the wrist.
Make 1 long piece for the wrist area.
Step 5: Tape or glue the straws onto the hand
Make sure to leave some gaps between the straws for Step 6.
Step 6: Thread 5 strings (roughly double the length of the hand) through the straws
Each of the five strings should come together and go through the single straw at the wrist. (I ended up using three straws at the wrist because my string was a bit thick. You could also use a wider straw)
This is usually the hardest part. You may need to wet the end of the string to pass it through the straws or use a thin pointy stick (like a toothpick or chopstick) to push it through.
Step 7: Secure the string at the tips of the finger with tape or glue
Step 8 (optional): Add keyrings to the end of each string
This can make it easier to pull the individual fingers
For more projects like this, check out one of our hands-on camps where we do projects like this every day for various subjects.
If you liked this project and want more posts like this, we would love to get feedback from you-- email us at email@example.com
Director, SMART Core Labs