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Screen shot from The Solutioneers episode 3

Screen shot from The Solutioneers episode 3

The Solutioneers Week 3: Friends, Robots, Lend Me an Arm

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Video Text Images
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This week's episodes and hands-on activity explore robotics.

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On this episode of The Solutioneers, Riley, Ava and Kat design an arm for their robot. 

On this episode of The Solutioneers, Riley, Ava and Kat design an arm for their robot. 

And on Future Minds, David Hewlett chats with Mankeerat, who has designed a Robotic Arm that is gesture controlled using a specially-designed glove. 

Meet Mankeerat, who has designed a Robotic Arm that is gesture controlled using a specially-designed glove. 

Now it's your turn!

Header image for Episode 3 hands-on activity
Robot Grabber Challenge

Make your own robotic hand! Add an arm to make it reach further.

Download the activity as a [PDF]

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

  • 1 piece of cardstock, craft foam or thin cardboard
  • Optional materials: drinking straws, string, craft sticks, scrap cardboard, sticks, scrap paper, paper towel rolls, elastics, paper clips, brass fasteners
  • Tools: transparent tape, masking tape or duct tape, scissors, glue gun and glue sticks 
Safety symbol
Safety symbol

Only use a hot glue gun with adult supervision 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

  • Trace the outline of your hand on a piece of cardstock, craft foam or thin cardboard. Keep your fingers apart. Cut out the hand.

Make sure that each finger is drawn nice and wide. 

Tracing an outline of a hand
Tracing outline of hand.
  • Attach the craft material to the hand to make the fingers move. What could you use for bones? What could you use for the joints? What makes a real hand move?
  • Test your grabber hand by trying to pick up something light and easy to grasp. If it doesn’t work, what needs to be changed? Once it works, what else can you pick up with the robot hand? 
  • Add an arm to the hand, using a long, thin object like a cardboard tube or a stick. How far can your hand reach and still pick up an object? What needs to be changed to make it work like an arm?
  • Test your hand and arm to pick up different objects in different spots (e.g., on the floor, on a table, on a shelf, etc.).

Look at the bones in your hand for inspiration! 

Bones in the hand
Bones in the hand

Did you know?
Tendons connect your finger bones to muscles in the palm of your hand and your forearm. Tendons let you move your fingers like the strings of a marionette!

WHAT’S THE POINT?

You have just built a simple robotic arm. The power that operates it comes from you. 

Robotic arms and hands are very useful. Canada’s most famous robotic arm is the Canadarm2. It is on the International Space Station (ISS). Dextre is another newer robot on the ISS. It has two arms with grasping jaws that act like hands. It can pick up and hold things. These robots were both designed by engineers in Canada! They help to do repairs on the ISS. This means astronauts do not have to do dangerous spacewalks to make repairs. Robotic arms are useful in places where humans cannot go safely -  like deep in a mine or under the sea! Robotic arms and hands are also used to help people who have lost an arm in an accident or were born without arms. 

Dextre robotic arm on the International Space Stattion
Dextre - A little robot on the International Space Station (Source: NASA).

WHAT ELSE?

Check out these cool careers that involve robots.

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