Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Constructing the Arm
Place a paper clip and a small cup in front of each student. Ask students to pick up the object and put it in the box. Then ask them to describe the process in detail, noting each small movement of their arm, wrist, hand, and fingers. Show a picture of the Canadarm and read The Story section from the clip titled "What is this big arm?".
Outline the Opportunity
Explain that students are going to build a working model of the Canadarm. Together, brainstorm different ways to make a model of the arm, such as using commercial construction kits or making plaster parts joined by mechanical connections from a hardware or automotive store. Students in high-tech classes can extend this activity by building a mini-robotic arm.
Have students form groups of four to six. Direct students to the topic Canadarm: A Technology Star on the CBC Digital Archives website. Have them browse through the clips titled "What is this big arm?", "The Canadarm comes through", "Saving sick satellites", "Hubble trouble", "The next generation", "The arm gets eyes" and "Spar looks ahead".
Students make sketches and notes on how the arm looks and operates. Using their notes and their chosen materials, students construct their model.
Revisit and Reflect
Have students demonstrate their model arms to the class. Students compare designs and discuss and critique how well the models work and how realistically they operate.
In the same groups, students can design another space device. They can view any of the clips they have already viewed, or the clip titled "A Canadian reaches the arm", to get ideas of useful items for the shuttle or space station. Students may create a working model, a computer graphic, or a detailed drawing of their device and present it to the class.