Assembling and Programming a Robotic Spider Glove V1

This workshop created by Sofiya Lysenko, Wilson Torres, and Dr. Michelle Johnson in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Robotics Lab. The workshop was designed using TechShopz In A Box Materials by which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution­ Non Commercial­ Share Alike 4.0 International License.

We are working on a next generation version of the workshop, our work in progress is here.

If you use the workshop, be sure to let us know! Also please reach out if you have any questions or comments.



In this workshop, students will assemble a soft robotic glove and program its sensors into a game directed at rehabilitating dexterity movements, commonly affected after a stroke. Students will learn about the importance of robotics in rehabilitation aid.   Systems, like the robotic glove they create, use games to provide incentive which significantly improves the effectiveness of regular rehabilitation.  By developing their own robotic glove, students will learn the basics in circuitry, design, and Arduino programming, as well as the importance of rehabilitation robotics with their own basic gamified rehabilitative system.

Instructor’s Level of Expertise: Intermediate- Instructor should be familiar with basic circuitry, understanding of robotics, and understanding of rehabilitation and disability. Additionally, they should be comfortable with the Arduino programming language and basics of programming and logic.

Target Time Range of Workshop: 3 hours, realistically this is very tight, allowing more time would be good.

Learning Goals and Objectives:

By the end of this workshop, students will be able to:

  • identify common rehabilitation motions
  • understand how a circuit operates
  • able to assemble a simple robot
  • assemble an electronic glove
  • understand how the glove interfaces with the robot and how both are interconnected
  • understand the importance of improving finger dexterity in patients
  • basics of programming (using the C language and Arduino)
  • interfacing software (Arduino) with hardware components


Students will have achieved/understood the specific learning goal if they are able to complete the following tasks and interact with the end product in the following ways:

  • Successfully assemble a robotic glove on their own after instruction about the parts and the circuit, and be able to describe the function of components
  • Utilize Arduino (C language) premade functions to code a lock pattern into their robot
  • Understand main objectives of gamification, especially as it pertains to rehabilitation



  • To prepare before the workshop:
    • Finger sleeves
    • Circuit board
    • Arduino access on computers used
    • Code downloaded and set-up
  • Introduction activities and demonstrations (optional):
    • Circuit: have both an example of a series and parallel circuit assembled and then disassembled (demonstration is the live assembly, and activity by students)
      • Further information on series and parallel circuits is contained within the Introduction/Information slide presentation
  • Download Arduino IDE or Arduino Web Editor software
    • Arduino IDE requires installation, recommended in order to interface with the Teensy microcontroller
    • Instructor tip: Email parents prior to the workshop, requesting they download the software before bringing their daughter to the event.
  • Have students access code during workshop, or prepare before they arrive
  • Hardware:
    • PCB board:
      • Attach flex sensors to through holes by diagram
      • Attach buttons to through holes by diagram
      • Printed circuit board files and specifications available for printing and order
    • Breadboard:
      • Attach all components on breadboard following the schematic in the PCB board section above
      • Detailed instructions in “Fabrication” slide presentation
    • For instruction, remove key components of choice such as the LED lights, and after distributing have girls connect. This is recommended with a PCB board; if using a breadboard, most components should be in the board and tested.
  • Glove materials
    • Please see instructions in resources/materials section for details based on materials chosen
    • Prepare finger tips: Cut fingers from gloves, and insert flex sensors beneath finger cover if using latex to prepare finger sleeves
  • Other:
    • Lay tape out on floor to create obstacle course, add obstacles such as open books or slightly inclined planes for the robots to traverse through
    • Layout the course with room for three or more spider robots, depending on the number of groups


  1. Enthusiastically greet students; shake their hands and make eye contact.
  2. As students arrive, give them a warm-up activity, ask what they know about the workshop topic, or have them start brainstorming ideas for a project. Have them share with a partner as an icebreaker.

Introduction (~20 min)

  1. Introduce yourself and the TAs (i.e. What is your story? How did you get interested in tech and choose your job?). Share stories, both your own and those of friends and accessible role-models throughout the workshop. The event space (tech company, university, etc.) may also be a learning experience for the students as well. If so, have the site representative explain why and give a tour if appropriate.
  2. If applicable, provide students the opportunity to get to know one another using a quick icebreaker/get-to-know-you game (e.g. pair up and share) or simple introduction by name (e.g. your name, why you’re here, favorite activities or websites...).
  3. Next, share/show what students are going to learn today and ask/explain WHY this is a valuable skill. Share the workshop general outline so students know what to expect. Try to evoke a sense of curiosity.
  4. Review any rules and expectations (e.g. raise hand, restroom policy, internet safety).

Workshop (~120 mins)

  • Lecture based instruction on topics of:
    • About different types of disabilities
    • Intro to world of disability
    • How diff. Kinds (born, acquired, etc)
    • Focus on positive
    • Stroke is …
    • How happens etc
    • Disabilities that come with it
    • Specific why issues with grasp, rehabilitation for those kinds of things
    • Role of robots in rehabilitation + few examples in the Rehabilitation Robotics Lab
    • Mixing rehabilitation and robotics
    • Gamification of things
  • Optional: Stress ball activity (experimenting with grasp), circuit activity (experimenting with series and parallel circuits)
    • In the stress ball activity, students are given several stress balls in order to test the rehabilitative motion they saw previously in the presentation.
    • In the circuit activity, a pair of parallel and series circuits are constructed for the students with alligator clips, or they are given materials in order to construct their own.
  • Combining fabric finger sleeves (3 per student), wrist fabric, and wire connections into the final glove
    • Recommended to be done in a station format, where each student finds their required materials and then begins to assemble
    • Assembly process is based on the corresponding slide presentation/document above
  • Hardware assembly: Incorporating a Teensy board into the PCB board/breadboard layout
  • Finger sleeve and wrist router (design) assembly: Put flex sensors into finger sleeves, wire into PCB/breadboard
  • Fully assemble the glove by adding wiring into the glove that fully connects with the hardware
  • Goal: Students understand integration of a PCB board and understanding of all electrical components
    • Action: Show schematic design and explain
  • Lesson on basics of Arduino programming (if statements, while loops..): Each group of students, after learning about the logic of the game and being instructed on the basics of programming (slide presentation above), begins to plan their code by the functions provided
  • Completion of small challenges to become acquainted with language: Then, each group codes a combination of buttons of an LED pattern into their code. This includes the use of some pre-made functions to create own code.
    • Students should test and troubleshoot, then instructor can reveal and discuss the final code.
  • They rotate their hardware pieces along with the code, and must “unlock” the robot by guessing what combination was used with the flex sensors in the glove
  • Once they match the same combination (if statements usage) the motor running code will be revealed, as soon as this is done, students must determine the best way to use this code, in order to ensure they can race their robot properly from the glove
  • Races: Students will begin to run their robots (guided by another group’s code and combination, which was unlocked) through the obstacle race. The objective for groups is to finish first. Racing and guiding the robots must be done by the glove and flex sensors.
  • This activity can be iterated on several times, beginning from where each group sets a lock pattern for their robot set-up.
  • Overview of knowledge attained by lecture and group discussions (instructor and group led).
  • Discussion of future directions.

Optional Extension Activities (for students who finish early or need a greater challenge):

  • Encourage students to learn more on their own either in the workshop or at home.
  • Code a new lock system from the LED’s: add new parameters or specifications
  • Control the robot with a certain number or pattern for fingers
  • Stress balls and circuit (from introduction slides)
    • Details of activity above (Introduction section).

Closing (~20 mins)

  1. At the end, encourage students to share their project with other participants (and, if applicable, families). This can be done 1-on-1 with a partner or with the whole group depending on interest.
  2. Give students (and parents) ideas to extend and continue their learning after the workshop (e.g. sites to learn on their own; upcoming, local tech events; tech classes). Consider preparing a handout with this information.
  3. Say your goodbyes and encourage students to continue to learn about technology at home.
  4. Provide a handout with further resources to learn more about circuits, Arduino and programming, and rehabilitation and robotics.

Additional Resources: