Biological Engineering


Following the steps of the engineering design process and acting as robotics engineer, student teams will use drinking straws to design and build a robotic hand. This robotic hand will mimic the way human fingers work: tendons bend the fingers while the muscles in the forearm control the action.

Teacher Notes

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  • To understand the physiology of the human hand and learn how human fingers work.

  • To apply the engineering design process to design a working hand.

  • To design and build a working hand out of craft materials that demonstrates how a real robot hand might work.

NGSS Standards

NGSS Standard Student Action
HS-LS1-2 Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms. Students use knowledge of human hand anatomy to develop a working model of a robotic hand.

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas

NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea Student Action
HS.LS1A.b Multicellular organisms have a hierarchical structural organization, in which any one system is made up of numerous parts and is itself a component of the next level Students develop a working model of a robotic hand where students identify and use materials to function as specific components of hand anatomy.

Expected Lesson Duration

Lesson 1 - Introduction: 30 - 60 minutes

Lesson 2 - Projects: 150 - 180 minutes

Lesson 3 - Quiz: 30 - 60 minutes