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Bionic body

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Data work
Topic: Forces

The Seventies TV show 'The Six Million Dollar Man' is being made into a new movie. With his bionic eye, arm and legs, the film's hero raced cars, lifted enormously heavy weights and jumped incredibly high. But bionic body parts are no longer only the stuff of sci-fi movies: nurses, fire-fighters and soldiers may all benefit from new developments in bionics. In this activity students learn about real -life bionic body parts and do a data analysis task to find out whether bionics could help them lift their school bags.

Published: 20th January 2005
Reviews & Comments: 2

Try the activity

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11 - 14 (KS3)
forces and their effects QCA 7k: mass is the amount of matter in an object and is measured in kg; weight is a force measured in N
pressure and moments QCA 9L: examples in the human body of the turning effect of a force use quantitative approaches, including calculations based on relationships between physical quantities

Running the activity

Suggested time: 20-30 minutes

Possible starter: Show page 1. Perhaps get a couple of students to act out the slow motion running! Ask students if they would like bionic body parts, and why.

Page 1 introduces the new film and describes the Six Million Dollar Man's bionic body parts. It also makes clear that bionic body parts can now be built for real! This page can be projected or printed onto transparency.

Page 2 describes bionic body parts that have been developed for nurses and fire-fighters, and describes the term bionic. Illustrations of the two systems are on the websites mentioned below. This page can be projected or printed onto transparency.

Page 3 asks students to consider whether bionic body parts could help them - through inserting weights of school bags and suitcases they will get a feel for the weights that bionic body parts can lift. Students will need Newtonmeters or bathroom scales to measure the weights of schoolbags. Students then do calculations to fill in a table and draw a graph showing the weights a person feels like they're lifting compared to actual weights. To save time you could get students to sketch the graph or prepare a grid for whiteboards. You will probably want to give students copies of page 3.

Possible plenary: Students act out a TV news slot about bionic parts and their benefits.

News links

BBC Science News
More good photographs and explanations
New Scientist
Good photograph and easy to follow description of the nurses bionic power suit
New Scientist
Good photographs and explanations of the prototype fire-fighter exoskeleton
Six Million Dollar Man
Information about the Six Million Dollar Man, and useful links to other relevant sites

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

9L pressure and moments

Mar 9th, 2010

5 Star

Again, pupils loved this activity. We got some newspaper clips of nurses using the suits, discussed armed forces etc using it- related it to the suits in Avatar the film.
Excellent activity for graph work- all the pupils stuck their graphs up on the wall proudly aftrwards which NEVER normally happens!

Reviewer: Rachel Mosses


Feb 28th, 2008

5 Star

Biodiesel is fantastic. Students enjoy the game as well as the role play. fits in very nicely with skills for the new key stage three

Reviewer: nick coleman