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This 6-minute video chronicles the efforts of inventor/physicist Dean Kamen to develop a robotic arm with the functionality and dexterity of its human counterpart.  "Prosthetic legs are in the 21st Century," says Kamen.  "With prosthetic arms, we're in the Flintstones."  The result of the project was the "Luke Arm", controlled with non-invasive measures using an interface like a joystick.

This video is part of a series about advances in prosthetic arms, published by Inside Technology Spectrum a magazine sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

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Editor's Note: Studying robotics promotes understanding of system inputs and outputs, engineering design, force interactions, transfer of energy, and much more. See Related Materials for a lesson plan and interactive simulation on modeling bionic arms. More advanced students may be ready to do the force calculations to be found in "How To Build A Robot".
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Classical Mechanics
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© 2010 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
applied physics, bionics, engineering physics, mechanical engineering, robot arm, robotics
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created March 15, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
October 7, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 30, 2011

Next Generation Science Standards

Engineering Design (3-5-ETS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (3-5)
  • Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. (3-5-ETS1-1)

Engineering Design (MS-ETS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (MS-ETS1-1)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • The patterns of an object's motion in various situations can be observed and measured; when that past motion exhibits a regular pattern, future motion can be predicted from it. (Boundary: Technical terms, such as magnitude, velocity, momentum, and vector quantity, are not introduced at this level, but the concept that some quantities need both size and direction to be described is developed.) (3)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
Relationship Between Energy and Forces (PS3.C)
  • When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other that can cause energy to be transferred to or from the object. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions. (3-5)
  • Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems. (6-8)
Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. (6-8)
Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World (K-12)
  • Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones. (4)
  • The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. (6-8)
  • New technologies can have deep impacts on society and the environment, including some that were not anticipated. Analysis of costs and benefits is a critical aspect of decisions about technology. (9-12)
Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology (K-12)
  • Knowledge of relevant scientific concepts and research findings is important in engineering. (3-4)
  • Engineering advances have led to important discoveries in virtually every field of science, and scientific discoveries have led to the development of entire industries and engineered systems. (6-8)
  • Science and engineering complement each other in the cycle known as research and development (R&D). (9-12)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3B. Design and Systems
  • 6-8: 3B/M3bc. The essence of control is comparing information about what is happening to what people want to happen and then making appropriate adjustments. This procedure requires sensing information, processing it, and making changes.
  • 6-8: 3B/M4b. The most common ways to prevent failure are pretesting of parts and procedures, overdesign, and redundancy.
3C. Issues in Technology
  • 6-8: 3C/M3. Throughout history, people have carried out impressive technological feats, some of which would be hard to duplicate today even with modern tools. The purposes served by these achievements have sometimes been practical, sometimes ceremonial.

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M9. Materials vary in how they respond to electric currents, magnetic forces, and visible light or other electromagnetic waves.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
4F. Motion
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.

8. The Designed World

8B. Materials and Manufacturing
  • 6-8: 8B/M2. Manufacturing usually involves a series of steps, such as designing a product, obtaining and preparing raw materials, processing the materials mechanically or chemically, and assembling the product. All steps may occur at a single location or may occur at different locations.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems
  • 6-8: 11A/M2. Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others. The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts. Such feedback can serve to control what goes on in the system as a whole.
  • 6-8: 11A/M3. Any system is usually connected to other systems, both internally and externally. Thus a system may be thought of as containing subsystems and as being a sub-system of a larger system.
  • 9-12: 11A/H2. Understanding how things work and designing solutions to problems of almost any kind can be facilitated by systems analysis. In defining a system, it is important to specify its boundaries and subsystems, indicate its relation to other systems, and identify what its input and output are expected to be.
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010), WWW Document, (https://spectrum.ieee.org/video/biomedical/bionics/dean-kamens-artificial-arm).
Dean Kamen's Artificial Arm (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010), <https://spectrum.ieee.org/video/biomedical/bionics/dean-kamens-artificial-arm>.
APA Format
Dean Kamen's Artificial Arm. (2011, June 30). Retrieved June 19, 2024, from Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: https://spectrum.ieee.org/video/biomedical/bionics/dean-kamens-artificial-arm
Chicago Format
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Dean Kamen's Artificial Arm. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, June 30, 2011. https://spectrum.ieee.org/video/biomedical/bionics/dean-kamens-artificial-arm (accessed 19 June 2024).
MLA Format
Dean Kamen's Artificial Arm. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010. 30 June 2011. 19 June 2024 <https://spectrum.ieee.org/video/biomedical/bionics/dean-kamens-artificial-arm>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Dean Kamen's Artificial Arm}, Publisher = {Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {19 June 2024}, Month = {June 30, 2011}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T Dean Kamen's Artificial Arm %D June 30, 2011 %I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers %U https://spectrum.ieee.org/video/biomedical/bionics/dean-kamens-artificial-arm %O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D June 30, 2011 %T Dean Kamen's Artificial Arm %I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers %V 2024 %N 19 June 2024 %8 June 30, 2011 %9 application/flash %U https://spectrum.ieee.org/video/biomedical/bionics/dean-kamens-artificial-arm

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Dean Kamen's Artificial Arm:

Is Supplemented By TryEngineering: Bionic Arm Design Challenge

This interactive simulation lets users virtually design and test a robotic arm, which must be built to certain specifications and cost constraints.

relation by Caroline Hall
Supplements TryEngineering: Build Your Own Robot Arm

In this activity, appropriate for grades 6-9, learners create a functioning robot arm from common household materials.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Part Of Special Report: Prosthetic Arms

A series of articles on the science and technology of the new generation of high-tech prosthetic arms, written for Spectrum, a magazine sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

relation by Caroline Hall

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