Make a Robotic Hand to Help you Understand… | UMC YoungPeople
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July 2018

Make a Robotic Hand to Help you Understand Ephesians 4

By Jeremy Steele

The body metaphors in the fourth chapter of Ephesians abound, but in verse 16 it gets really specific saying “The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments.” To explore this metaphor we are going to make an articulated “robotic” hand complete with tendons. Instead of spending a couple thousand on servos and carbon-fiber bones, we are going to use the basic concepts drawn from human anatomy using straws and basic craft supplies. It may sound complicated, but it can be incredibly simple. Though this is a lot of fun, its probably best for students to work in groups of two or three. Here;’s how to create the hand step-by step.

  1. Have students begin by tracing their hand and some of their arm onto craft foam or construction paper and cutting it out. Once they are done give.
  2. Then tell them to cut the straws. They are going to need five two inch pieces and fourteen pieces that are less than an inch long.
  3. Now have them not glue the straw pieces to the hand. The long pieces are the bones in the hand, and the shorter pieces are the finger bones. The key to making this work is leaving spaces between all the bones.
  4. While the hot glue dries, tell students to cut five pieces of twine to 1.5-2feet in length.
  5. Each hand/finger set of bones should have a piece of twine threaded through it from beginning to end. Once finished, a piece of twine should be hanging out the ends of each finger and the long straws at the end.
  6. Now tie a large bead (bigger than the opening of the straw) to each end of the twine.
  7. Your hand is complete. You should be able to pull on the string and see how it makes the fingers move.

Questions for reflection on Ephesians 4:14-16

  • How does seeing this metaphor in real life help you understand the metaphor in the Bible?
  • How do the muscles/tendons in this hold the hand together?
  • What does this say about “building each other up with love?”
  • How can you act like this in your world? How can you be part of the ‘ligaments’ in the Body of Christ?

Required Materials (per hand):

  • 1 sheet of construction paper or craft foam
  • 5 straws
  • 10(fish) feet of twine
  • 20 beads
  • Hot glue and glue gun
When he's not playing with his four children with his wonderful wife, Jeremy is the associate pastor at Los Altos UMC in Los Altos, CA. Jeremy has spent over twenty years working in youth and children's ministry and continues to train children and youth workers as well as writing and speaking extensively in that field. His most recent book is the "All the Best Questions." You can find a list of all his books, articles, and resources for churches at