What would you do if you were given a box filled with straws, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, clothespins, string, dental floss, tape and a funnel?
More than 30 area high school students who participated in Explore Engineering June 6 used those items and a few others to design a functional prosthetic hand that could throw a ball, shoot a Nerf gun, write their names, pick up stacking rings from a baby toy and turn the page of an old mechanical engineering textbook.
Some of the students created fingers with pipe cleaners and tape. Others used straws and cardboard. Many tied strings to the makeshift finger and pulled it to make it bend. Through trial and error, they discovered that engineering is about solving problems — if one design didn’t work, they tried something else.
The creation of the prosthetic hand was one of three hands-on activities the students participated in over the course of the day. They also used lightweight materials to build a wind turbine that would create enough energy to pump water. In addition, they did computer programming to build virtual battling robots.