Hand it to the Lower Fifth Back to archive
23rd June 2017

British Science Week was filled with events here at Benenden, but the main part of the week was the Biomechanical Hand Project.

This saw Biology, Physics, Chemistry, DT and Computing working together to produce, program and wire a robotic hand controlled by a glove the girls also created. The robotic hand also replicated the movements of anyone wearing the glove.


Above: Making the hand in DT

Lower Fifth students Olivia Byrne and Zara Webb tell us about the fun and challenging task:

The Biomechanical Hand Project has taught us new skills that are not normally covered in lessons. Over the course of British Science Week we made a straw hand, constructed a sensorized glove and programmed an Arudino Uno microcontroller board to act as the controller.

On Monday morning we began to create the famous biomechanical hand we had heard of a few days earlier. Zara was paired with Scarlett and they both had no idea what they were doing to begin with! Going in blind, the detailed instructions and accommodating teachers helped us through the process of creating the biomechanical hand.


Above: In Biology learning about the hands and finger bones

They were assigned to do the right index finger, and after much cutting, sticking and holding down pieces of copper, tape, velostat, velcro and acrylic, they finally completed it. They then proceeded to get it checked by a teacher and placed it into a box with several others.

Meanwhile in Biology Olivia had to create a straw hand and learnt about the different parts of the hands and finger bones. They did this using only scissors, Scotch Tape, a hot glue gun and Sharpie marker to construct a straw hand. The straw hand consisted of a braided kite line, straws, felt and a rubber band. Each group in the class had to construct a finger. This consisted of the metacarpal, proximal, middle and distal.


Above: Programming the hand in Computing

On Thursday Zara had Computing. This included writing the code to power the hand that would subsequently be connected to the glove that would move the biomechanical hand. They did this by following a very well presented PowerPoint video from Arduino IDE - a system that allows us to write code for this type of mechanics. By the end of the lesson they had two sets of code, one for the right hand and one for the left hand.

Finally we put to test our week’s worth of biomechanical hand making. We wired the hand to the Arduino Uno using 13 solderless breadboard jumper wires, a number of resistors, a breadboard, a micro USB cable and solid core wire. We then had to connect the Arduino to the computer using a USB cable and we made a jumper that was placed in the mini breadboard using the male wires and connected it to the Arduino UNO board.


Above: Wiring the hand in Physics

This was a thoroughly interesting process and we really enjoyed it. We have learnt lots of new skills and improved our knowledge on fingers and how they move, programming, working on the sensor glove and wiring the finger to the computer. Our favourite part was wiring the finger as we were able to see our hard work in practice as the fingers could move.

We must end by thanking the team at the Microsoft Garage who produced the idea and materials to support this project in the classroom as part of Microsoft’s Hacking STEM series.


Above: The final product!