Robotic Hand Mission

I was very pleased to receive an invitation from Optimise Learning to work with and trail a mission with some of our students. Optimise Learning is a professional organisation which supports children, parents and teachers in reaching their full potential. St Aidan’s was fortunate to have on staff one of the directors from Optimise Learning for a few years, sharing expertise in educating young people.

Optimise Learning staff and St Aidan’s passionate teacher Deb Koh, who was the recipient of the 2013 Queensland College of Teachers’ Excellence in Teaching Award, set the mission with year 5 students.

The Mission

The girls read and discussed the poem below a few days before the mission was revealed.

They also watched a short video on making a robotic hand. This was due to time restrictions. Ideally giving students time to design and make their own without instructions is allowing for more ownership and creativity.

The mission was to use cardboard, straws, paper, string and tape to ‘create a mechanism to remove the koala from the tree safely’.

For the purposes of this trial, the koala was represented by a small teddy bear, and the tree was represented by a Lego tower that measured 1 metre from the top of the table it was positioned on. The girls were asked to use the ‘robotic cardboard hand’ they had designed and created, to take the bear from the top of the Lego tower and lower it down to the table without dropping it.

The girls discussed their ideas, then designed and drew their plans. They constructed their ‘robotic hand’. After some initial trial runs with the teddy bear, the girls made adjustments to their designs and then attempted their mission. Most teams completed the mission successfully- but importantly the girls worked well together, engaged with a range of STEAM concepts and had a lot of fun.

Feedback from the Girls:

“I really enjoyed the mission because it was fun and challenging at the same time. It was good working with different girls in the class too”.

“I love making things out of old recyclables, it is so good for the environment-so it was good that the mission used things that can be recycled – except for the straws.”

“It was so fun- I loved everything about the mission. I am going to try making a hand that you can move, at home”.

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Jackie Child
Jackie Child has been teaching primary aged students for 40 years in a number of countries. She is passionate about how children learn through constructivist pedagogy. She is a Teacher Librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School and a sessional tutor at Griffith University for pre-service teachers. Jackie doesn’t believe in standing still, there is always plenty to ‘do’ and learn!