Smooth Operator

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this activity, learners explore surgical instrument design. Teams of learners construct surgical instruments from everyday materials. They then test their surgical instruments to determine how well they can perform a simulated “surgical procedure”.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • Shoebox
  • 3 small differently shaped objects (e.g. marshmallow, eraser, grape, noodle)
  • Dominos or small rectangular blocks
  • Pencil
  • Popsicle stick
  • Plastic spoon
  • Chopstick
  • Construction paper
  • Brass fasteners
  • String
  • Paper clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Clothespins
  • Binder clips
  • Tape


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
    • Technology
      • Medical Technology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Medicine
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science as a Career
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and History
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, IEEE,