Introduction: Robotic Hand Science Project


A little introduction first. I volunteer as a science teacher at a local elementary school, and my goal is to instill a love of learning in each child. You can check out my blog here. Kto6Science projects.

Now, on to the robotic hand....

Projects described in books or shown on Youtube seem absurdly easy, but I have yet come across a project that didn't need any tinkering before I could take it into a classroom. This one isn't too bad, but it still took me longer than I expected.

I came across this robotic hand project on Youtube as well as (I think), but when I tried to build it, it took me almost two hours to work out the kinks.

Sure, I did have to try several different versions and had to make adjustments as I went along, but I'm not sure if this is something I can take directly into a classroom of 2nd graders without more tinkering.

BUT... I think it'll be fun to try it with my kids.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Supplies Needed:

  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard paper or cardstock paper
  • Standard drinking straws (Dollar Store variety is fine)
  • Pearl drink straws or bigger diameter straws
  • Yarn or twine

Step 2: Draw Your Robotic Hand

  1. Trace your hand on a cardboard or cardstock paper.
  2. Cut the traced hand out (cutting it a little bigger than the actual tracing).

Step 3: Creating Joints

  1. Mark your finger joints on the cutout.
  2. Draw straight or curved line across it.

Step 4: Creating Your Robotic Hand

  1. Fold the fingers at the lines.
  2. Cut smaller straws to size (leave a little gap between the lines to facilitate in threading the yarn).
  3. Tape straw pieces to the hand.
  4. Thread yarn through the straw pieces. Each finger will have a length of yarn of its own.
  5. Thread all five pieces of yarn through the bigger straw.

Step 5: Additional Comments:

The threading part was difficult. If I had a big needle for the yarn, it would have made it easier, but I didn't. So, I struggled with it. If I do go forward with this one in the classrooms, I think I'll have to buy big plastic needles for this project.

I had grand plans for making a sleeve that will cover the arm, but I'm not sure I'll be able to build all of that in an hour let alone a 2nd grader. So, I might still try it, but I probably won't take it into the classroom.

I think I'll buy different colored yarns for each finger, so the students will know which finger they are trying to move. With the same colored yarns, it was difficult to figure out which end went with which finger.

P.S. - I'll break down the steps more in detail next time.



Ole+AlexanderH made it!(author)2017-06-08

Thanks for this idea.

It looks very fun, and I'll try it with my 3 year old today. He'll certainly need a lot help, but he will most certainly love the finished product.

I think I'll try a different approach with the threading, however. I imagine it would be a bit easier to measure and cut the straw pieces, then pull the yarn through, and THEN tape the straws to the cardboard hand. Also I'll use your idea of different colors for different fingers.

Thanks again for sharing this brilliant idea :)

Gerdy1234 made it!(author)2016-11-29

What are the sizes of the straw lengths?

Kto6Science made it!(author)2017-06-07

Really sorry about the delay. I've been absent from this site due to family issue. In the finger area, it's less than 1 in. I remember cutting it off to make it fit. In the hand area, I started with 2 in and cut some off.

gling01 made it!(author)2017-06-06

You can buy 'plastic lacing needles' online or at your local sewing
stores. Price varies depending on where/how you buy ($3-$10 for packages
of 3-100).

Kto6Science made it!(author)2017-06-07

That's a great idea. I did think about the needle, but the store close to my house didn't have any.

janderry made it!(author)2017-06-06

What you want for the threading is called a Serger Threader. The Dritz brand costs less than $4 and you can get them at sewing stores or Walmart.

Kto6Science made it!(author)2017-06-07

Thanks for the suggestion. I did think about it, but the store I went to didn't have one at the time. I'm going to do this project in the fall, and I'm going to make sure I have some of these with me.

AvivaN made it!(author)2017-06-06

you can improvise a threader by folding 2 - 3 inches wire to half, tape the edges together, creating a faux needle

Kto6Science made it!(author)2017-06-07

Thanks for the idea. I'm going to try it in the fall when I do it in a primary classroom.

BriceK made it!(author)2016-02-26

Great idea! Will use this for my son's science project!

King+Cyber+ made it!(author)2016-01-25

thats wack

PROGRAMMER12 made it!(author)2015-08-17

another version of this is threading the string through foam and putting wire on the outside so it only bends on the joints

Kto6Science made it!(author)2015-12-05

That's a great idea. I did think of doing it with the straw & string side bending out, instead of in.

Kto6Science made it!(author)2015-08-18

I might have to give that a try. I was trying to simplify the project for primary grades. Thanks!

Kto6Science made it!(author)2015-12-05

Yes. I thought of using 3D printed parts, but I was trying to come up with a project I could do with kindergarten students as well as 6th graders, I decided to use this method. Also, when I teach at school, I can barely collect $10 year/student (for 10+ projects) for supply fees, so I'm always trying my best to be cost effective.

douglas423 made it!(author)2015-07-05

I love how simple it is! When i was around 7 i wanted to make one but i didnt have motors but i came up with something like this using string and straws but you have finnaly made one.

Kto6Science made it!(author)2015-07-05

Thanks! I volunteer and teach 2nd graders to 6th graders, so I try to simplify projects to make sure 2nd graders will be able to make them.

raptor_demon made it!(author)2015-06-30


Kto6Science made it!(author)2015-06-30

Thank you.

louie+cevasco made it!(author)2015-06-29

Very cool!

Kto6Science made it!(author)2015-06-29


seamster made it!(author)2015-06-29

Very cool idea. This is a great summer project for bored kids!

Kto6Science made it!(author)2015-06-29

Thanks! If your kids are younger than 10 years old, I would suggest using pearl drink straws (really big ones) to make all your bones. Too hard to thread the yarn with smaller straws.

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