Build a Mechanical Hand – STEAM Project

Looking for an easy STEAM / STEM project for your kids with simple supplies? Well building this mechanical hand is just the project you’re looking for! We’ll teach the kids the basics of building this hand and then issue a challenge. The kids will use their STEAM thinking skills to modify the hand to meet the challenge.


  • cardboard
  • cardboard scissors or serrated butter knife
  • straws
  • string
  • push pin
  • hot glue gun w/glue
  • duct tape
  • tweezers or needle-nosed pliers (optional)

*Safety tip: You can use tweezers or pliers to place the straws or secure the string with glue to keep your fingers out of the hot glue.

Mechanical hand building steps

This is a list of time stamps for the steps in the Mechanical Hand build.

  • 1:40 – cut and shape cardboard for hand
  • 4:22 – score and fold cardboard finger joints
  • 6:31 – cut and glue finger straws
  • 8:07 – cut and glue palm straws
  • 9:12 – clip straw corners and add string
  • 12:20 – add duct tape to strengthen joints
  • 13:48 – STEAM challenge details

Make this a STEAM challenge!

So far we’ve just given you a tutorial for how to build a mechanical hand. But that’s not STEAM! So let’s change this into a real STEAM thinking project.

Here’s the challenge:

Use this basic hand design to build your own hand that can lift a cup up off a table.

That’s it! Pretty simple instructions. But right now our hand can just wave or scratch your head. YOU’LL have to brainstorm and design what it takes to pick something up. Good luck!

Add some science

A little parent tip here is that the way our hand works to pick things up is by opposable thumbs! We love to let kids brainstorm and think of what might work first, but then you can add in the science of how a real hand works.

Older kids might learn about ligaments or what animals have opposable thumbs.

Younger kids might like this Opposable Thumbs song from PBS.

If you have come up with an AMAZING design to show us your design, send it over! Or tag us on Facebook or Instagram @steamthinkers.

Science – add some science by talking about opposable thumbs
Tech –
Engineering – design your a hand
Art – get creative in how the hand works
Math –

16 STEAM Challenges Just Like This

If you liked this challenge, there’s plenty more where that came from! This is one of the projects in our Brain Builders STEAM Club. You can join us for more projects, done-for-you teaching, and a safe site for kids to interact with other STEAM lovers.

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