Space Shuttle End Effector Model (Space Robot Arm)

Good afternoon scientists! We have been watching a lot of science documentaries about space lately, so I thought my little scientist would like to make a model of the Space Shuttle’s End Effector. An end effector is the device (tool) at the end of a robot’s arm.

MaterialsSpace Shuttle End Effector Model (4)

Two Styrofoam Cups





1.**Adult Only** Carefully cut the bottom half off of your two Styrofoam cups.Space Shuttle End Effector Model (12)

2. Nest the two cups together.Space Shuttle End Effector Model (14)

3. Measure and cut three pieces of string to about 4 inches long.Space Shuttle End Effector Model (15)

4. Diving the rim of the cup into thirds, tape each of the strings to the outside of the outside cup.Space Shuttle End Effector Model (20)

5. Tape the other end of the string to the the inside of the inner cup so that they are even.

6. Slowly rotate the outer cup and watch your strings move allowing a robot to hold different objects just like the real robot end effector on the space shuttle’s arm.Space Shuttle End Effector Model (25)

7. You can use the arm to grab and hold objects just like the real space robot as my little scientist has fondly named his model. Place your object in the center of your model while the strings are not twisted then slowly rotate the the outside cup until the robot has gripped your object, don’t over-tighten it will cause the tape to come undone.

Talking Points

An end effector is the device or tool at the end of a robot’s arm. It can be many different tools or one specific tool to help the robot do its designed task.

Our cups model the end effector that was on one of the arms of the space shuttle. The end effector on the space shuttle was designed just like our model, with the string set-up the robot could hold many different shaped and sized tools.

Extended Learning: Check out some more of our related activities

Toothbrush Bot (27)
Toothbrush Robot

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