A video excerpted from NOVA: “Making Stuff Wilder,” provided with a background essay, accompanying classroom project guide, and discussion questions for grades 6-12.

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PBS LearningMedia provides free video from PBS programs with accompanying educational resources. Visit the LearningMedia website to view an excerpt from NOVA: “Making Stuff Wilder” and download the accompanying classroom resources.

In the NOVA clip host and technology columnist David Pogue meets with engineer Heinrich Frontzek to find out about the Bionic Handling Assistant—a machine modeled after an elephant’s trunk. A traditional robotic arm is rigid and unable to work closely with humans, but this new design is more flexible and less dangerous. The company has also developed a new kind of adaptive gripper, inspired by fish fins, that is flexible and able to securely grasp even fragile objects, like eggs.

In the Making Stuff Wilder Project students will take inspiration from the form and function of an eagle’s foot, and learn how the various parts of a foot can come together to form a working model.

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