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    Home / Science projects / Muscle Science Projects
    • Muscle Science Projects

      Muscle Science Projects

      Make a Hand Model

      Make a working model of your hand, using paper and string. You'll see how the muscles in your hands pull on your bones to help you move your fingers!

      What You Need:

      • Cardstock or thin cardboard
      • Pen
      • Scissors (and an adult to help you use them)
      • Thin string
      • Tape

      What You Do:

      1. With your fingers spread out, trace around your hand to make a hand outline on the cardstock. Cut out the hand shape with scissors (have an adult help you).
      2. Cut five pieces of string that are all about the length of your cardboard hand.
      3. Tear off a very small piece of tape and attach one string to the top of the thumb of your cardboard hand.
      4. Put another small piece of tape at the main finger joint, in the middle of the thumb. Make sure that the string is secured to the cardboard. Put a third piece of tape at the bottom of the thumb, where the finger is connected to the palm of the hand.
      5. Do the same thing for the other four fingers - using three small pieces of tape to attach the string to the cardboard. Make sure there is enough space between the tape to be able to grab hold of the string later on.
      6. Put a big piece of tape over the ends of the five strings, so they are stuck to the palm of the cardboard hand.
      7. Pull on the strings to see them move at the taped joints. What happens if you tug on a string close to the fingertip? How about if you pull the strings near the palm of the hand (above the large piece of tape)?

      What Happened:

      On your hand, you have three joints in each finger. Joints are formed by bones and tendons (tough, thick cords) and are covered by muscles. On the model hand, each of the joints is made with the piece of tape that connects the string to the cardboard. The string is like the muscles and tendons in your hand, because it can pull on the cardboard (which is like your bones), and make it bend. Unlike your hand though, this model is not very flexible. Joints in your hands can bend much more easily because there are separate bones between each joint. Pull on different parts of the different strings and see how the cardboard hand moves. Try moving your fingers in the same way. Can you move your fingers more than the cardboard hand can?

      Muscles in Motion

      Use your sense of touch to find out which muscles you use when doing different activities. For this project you may want a friend or family member to be your helper.

      1. Hold one arm out in front of you, with your palm facing up. Make a fist, and slowly bring your arm up at the elbow, then bend it back down. Which arm muscles do you think you are using?
      2. Do the first step again, bringing your arm slowly back and forth, but this time put your other hand on your arm just above the elbow. Can you feel your muscles moving?
      3. What muscles would you use to catch a baseball? How about throwing a baseball? With your helper, come up with different sports (Basketball, Tennis, Soccer, etc.). What muscles do you think athletes in these sports use the most? Have your helper act out what an athlete does for a particular sport. For example, for soccer, you might jump, kick, and run. What leg muscles does this use? How about arm muscles?
      4. Try making a slow kicking motion (while sitting in a chair, so you don't fall down), while your partner feels your leg muscles to see which ones are being used. You could do the same thing with different activities: catching a baseball, catching a football, throwing a frisbee, swinging a golf club, skiing, etc. Act out as many different activities as you can think of, to see what muscles they would use. Take turns with your helper acting out different sports in slow motion.

      What Happened:

      You use various muscles in your body throughout the day. Muscles are what allow you to move. Even very basic things that you do often require you to use your muscles - getting out of bed, eating, walking, and playing all use muscles! When you experimented, you probably found that certain parts of your arms and legs helped you do certain things, like throw or catch a ball, kick a ball, run, etc. Can you think of some other things you do that use those same muscles? How about jumping, skipping, doing cartwheels or summersaults, playing tag or leap-frog, helping set the table or wash the dishes, brushing your teeth, and putting away your toys?

      To learn more about some of the different muscles in your body, check out this worksheet. See if you can name the muscles you used for the different activities you tried above.

      To learn more about muscles and motion, visit this teaching tip.

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