The Claw – Bay Area Discovery Museum

The Claw

The Claw

At BADM, necessity is the spark of invention behind some of our most popular daily programs and we're hoping to share that inspiration with you! Even though we're all faced with certain limitations right now, with a positive mindset those limitations become an opportunity for creativity -- we hope that's what you'll bring to this activity!

If you need an idea to get started, our director of STEM Learning and Innovation, Lisa Regalla, used just a few common items to make a grabber for picking up dog toys! Watch how she did it as she walks you through the activity in the video below - then it's your turn to start inventing!

Learning Goals

  • Come Up with Ideas and Try Them Out
  • Persist Through Challenges

Materials Required

  • Various types of grabbers (i.e. tongs, chopsticks, trash pickers)
  • 2 clothes hampers, baskets or other containers of similar size
  • Clothes, toys, recyclables or other items to pick up and move
  • Materials for building your very own “claw,” such as:
    • Popsicle sticks
    • Straws
    • Rubber bands
    • Tape
    • Pipe cleaners
    • Cardboard tubes
    • Wire coat hangers
    • Dowels
    • Bamboo skewers
    • Wooden paint stir sticks
    • Double stick tape
    • Velcro


  1. Start off by giving your children time to use the gathered grabbers to perform household tasks, such as picking up clothes and toys and sorting trash. Encourage them to take turns using all of the different grabbers to perform each task.
  2. Introduce the robotics terms end effectors. On a robot, the end effector is the part of the robot where the arm and hand fits, which is able to perform tasks.
  3. Prompt children to use what they learned from testing the different grabbers to build their own with materials like popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, cardboard tubes, or other materials you have around your house.
  4. Children can test their creation by using it to pick up clothes or toys. Encourage them to notice what works well about their design and what could be improved.
  5. Let children continue to use the available materials to refine and improve their design, and test it out again.

Tips for Adults

During and after the activity, ask your child:

  • What was hard about this? What helped you keep going when it got difficult?
  • What worked about your design? What didn’t work?
  • What changes can you make so that it will work better?
  • What ideas do you want to try out next time?
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