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Human Machine    Mystery 1

Mystery 1 image

Students discover the mechanism by which their muscles control their bones (i.e., how their bodies move!). In the activity, students develop a robotic finger based on how their own fingers work.

Why do your biceps bulge?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (2 of 8)

DISCUSS:

What do you think is going on inside your hands when you’re moving your fingers? Any ideas?

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (4 of 8)

DISCUSS:

Take a few moments to move the different parts of your body, and see if you can find all your joints.

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Beginning Exploration (5 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (6 of 8)

DISCUSS:

What do you think would actually be pulling on the strings?

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Beginning Exploration (7 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (8 of 8)

DISCUSS:

Describe how you might go about creating a robot hand that works just like yours.

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Beginning Activity Prep
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Robot Finger

Step 1: Get supplies and print handouts.

Each student needs:

  • scissors
  • ruler
  • 3"x5" index card
  • 2 paper clips (small or medium-sized; not jumbo)
  • a notebook or pile of paper — Students use this as a soft surface that lets them make indented lines that make accurate folding easy.
  • 1 dot sticker or piece of tape ½” by ½”. (We recommend dot stickers because they are easier to distribute in a classroom.)
  • 18” of string
  • Robot Finger template

Step 2: Decide if your class will make robot hands.

In Extras, we include instructions for assembling robot fingers to make a robot hand. If you have time, this is a fun extension of the activity. We recommend having each group of four students assemble a hand, using the fingers they made.

To make a robot hand, each group of four students will need:

  • scissors
  • glue stick (for sticking paper to cardboard)
  • 4 completed Robot Fingers
  • Robot Hand template
  • a sheet of cardboard that’s at least 6” by 8” (Cardboard from a cereal box is the right stiffness. If you need to buy some, look for “light chipboard” at a craft store or Amazon.)

Check our "Extras" for further instructions.

Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Activity: Robot Finger
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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading and extension activity in the optional extras.

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration you just completed.
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Make a robot hand

To make a robot hand, you need the supplies listed in Step 2 of activity prep.

Glue the template to cardboard and cut on the dotted lines. Then watch the video on the next slide to see how to put it all together.

After students experiment with the robot hand, we suggest a class discussion.

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Discussion & Video

The robot hand can't do everything your hand can do.

Ask your student to experiment and figure out what their fingers and hands can do that the robot fingers and hands can't. Ask them: If you wanted to make the robot hand more like your hand, what would you need to add to the robot hand?

Discuss this question as a class. After your discussion, watch this video to hear some of the differences the Mystery Science team noticed.

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Additional Activities

  • Find out how your thumb is different from other fingers and why that’s very useful in this activity from NSTA.

  • Make a model of an arm and explore how bones and muscles work together in The Power of Togetherness from National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

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Readings:

These Common-Core-aligned readings are free with registration on ReadWorks. All readings include comprehension questions.

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
futuristic Android by Humanrobo , used under CC BY-SA
orange robot by Alexander Kozusev , used under CC BY
roomba stuck in chair by Geekzine Mexico , used under CC BY-SA
Atlas complex futuristic robot by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
DARPA falling over by blue hippo films
Atlas robot by Boston Dynamics
firefighter and rescued child by SanchaiRat
girl lunging by axelle b
baby steps by Berenice Garcia , used under CC BY-SA
man running up hill by Alisha Vargas , used under CC BY-SA
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero by Keith Allison , used under CC BY-SA
Portola Palace Stairs by Bernt Rostad , used under CC BY-SA
child riding a bike by Jerry , used under CC BY-SA
Sydney Gonzalez Gymnast by Ruben Gonzales
white android by Hairygael , used under CC BY-SA
duracell batteries by Anton Fomkin , used under CC BY-SA
sandwich by Seph Swain , used under CC BY-SA
Integrated Circuit by Tomasz Mikołajczyk
brain by Sanandros , used under CC BY-SA
brain and nerves by KRITRIM VAULT , used under CC BY
human hand by Johnny Magnusson
robot hand by Peter Ohlmus
human hand bones by OpenStax College
human skeleton by Scott Anselmo , used under CC BY-SA
seattle building by Seattle Municipal Archives
building skeleton by Les Chatfield , used under CC BY-SA
hand x-ray by Noah Weiss
arduino hand robot by Peter Ohlmus
fried chicken by Evan-Amos
white hen by Agricultural Research Service
white king salmon fillet by Isaac Wedin , used under CC BY-SA
Strip Steak by Ɱ , used under CC BY-SA
Activity
rock em sock em by DJ , used under CC BY-SA
Other
Unit: Bicep by daniel64