The Mechanics Behind Our Hands

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After our last Tinker Crate, my son immediately asked me when we would be getting the next one.  I told him not for another month, and his face fell.  He loves making, learning, and experimenting with things, as well as uninterrupted time with mom. When last month’s box finally came in the mail, I set it on the porch, waiting for him when he got off his school bus.  As soon as he hopped off the bus, he saw the box, and came running to the porch. He wanted to start tearing into the box immediately, but I told him we needed to wait until the weekend, when the babies were napping.  If you ever tried to make something with a 3 year old and 1 year old awake, it can be more of a hassle than fun. So my son waited (somewhat) patiently for Saturday afternoon to roll around.

Mechanics for Kids | Tinker Crate | The Mechanics Behind our Hands

This Month’s Tinker Crate: The Mechanics Behind our Hands

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As soon as I put my the babies down for a nap, my son looked at me and said “Ready??!” I told him he could get everything out, and he said “Wayyy ahead of you mom!” When he opened up

Mechanics for Kids | Tinker Crate | The Mechanics Behind our Hands

He had already set out all the supplies! I always tell him to do set out everything from the Tinker Crate before we get started, so we can make sure we have everything. I guess I’ve finally worn off on him (a little). After making sure we had everything, my son opened the Tinker zine, and started to read.

Tinker Crate Fun!

The first part taught him how our hands work. He learned how many bones were in his hand, and what each one was called.  We did a little math while he read too, just because adding is kinda fun…

Mechanics for Kids | Tinker Crate | The Mechanics Behind our Hands

Next my son read that humans are the only animals that can touch their thumb to their ring finger and pinky, a fact that jumped out at my son while he was reading. We also learned that there are no muscles in our fingers! The muscles in our hands only go as far at the palm. With the help of ligaments, these muscles control our fingers like a puppeteer controls a puppet with the help of strings on a puppet.

To better illustrate the concept, the book instructed us to try an exercise with our hands. My son held his hand out with his palm facing up. I then pressed on his arm, just above his wrist. We watched as (to our surprise) his hand jumped and his fingers curled! If we pressed on a different part above his wrist, his hand would react in a different way, but always resulted in his fingers moving.  Whichever muscle we pressed down on must have been controlling his fingers!

To further illustrate how the muscles in the arm control the movement of our finger, we made some puppets using straws, string, and some fun cut outs that came in the box.

Making our Puppets

The first step was to make several arms with multiple “joints” out of a straw. We made the joints by cutting small triangles in the side of the straw. Then we ran some string through the inside of the straw, and taped the end of the string to the end of the straw.  When my son pulled the string, the straw would then bend, much like our fingers bend at the joints!

Mechanics for Kids | Tinker Crate | The Mechanics Behind our Hands

We made two more of these “legs” (I cut the straws, he pulled the string through and taped it to the straw).  Then my son taped the “legs” to the octopus cutout and pulled the 3 strings together behind the octopus.

Mechanics for Kids | Tinker Crate | The Mechanics Behind our Hands

Now it was time to play!

He made two more puppets provided in the Tinker Crate box, and had a great time playing with them!

While he played I asked him how the puppets and his hand were related.

His answer? “Our  muscles in our hand control our fingers, like the strings control the legs of my octopus.”

Me: “Nice!”

Mechanics for Kids | Tinker Crate | The Mechanics Behind our Hands

I can’t wait to see what the rest of our Tinker Crate box teaches him. But for now we’re playing with our new puppets…and our hands!

Curious about our other Tinker Crate experiences? Read some of my other posts!!
Tinker Crate: Exploring Polymers
Tinker Crate: Optics & Circuits
Teach Your Kid about Biomechanical Engineering