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How Can You Create a Prosthetic

Elephant Trunk?
WebQuest for Fifth Grade
By Justice Klene
Introduction: Have you ever read the story Dolphin Tale and heard of
the real life dolphin named Winter with a prosthetic tail? Have you
ever seen a dog with only three legs? Sometimes animals lose their
limbs, and they need help from humans to live their daily lives again.
Artificial body parts are called prosthetics. Prosthetics are made by
biomedical engineers. They first start by creating an initial design and
then develop a prototype they can test for safety and effectiveness.
Biomedical engineers are able to design prosthetics by combining
medical knowledge with technical expertise.

Task: We have a problem! The zoo just rescued an African elephant
that doesn’t have a trunk! It is time to put on your engineering hats! In
this WebQuest you will have the chance to become a biomedical
engineer and build a new trunk for an elephant. You will work with
three other students as a team to develop, design, and create a
prosthetic trunk for the elephant. As a team of biomedical engineers,
you will design a model prosthetic trunk for the rescued elephant. You
must all conduct research and use materials needed to build the model
prosthetic trunk. Design criteria: The trunk must have something
resembling nostrils for breathing and attach to the elephant’s
body (a poster board). This will be evaluated by the teacher. This
must be completed in two weeks.
1. Your teacher has split the class into groups. Each group will have 5
students in it, and you will be working as a team to design your
prosthetic elephant trunk. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to
know your classmates and work with students you may not have had
the opportunity to work with before.
2. There will be 5 different jobs. Your group will draw numbers out of an
empty cup to see who gets which job. There will be pieces of paper
numbered 1-4. When you pull out your number that is your job. There
will be no arguing over what job you get.
3. Each student in the group must fill out a graphic organizer with their
research. Please fill each box. You must go Here and print off the
graphic organizer. Each student in the group must have one.
4. The jobs are collector, designer, material manager, artist, and the
 The collector (student one) will be the main writer of the team.
They will take all of the information that their teammates have
researched and put it together in one document. The collector is
responsible for making sure the document is grammatically
correct and contains no punctuation errors.
 The historian (student two) will be the student who researches
the history of the elephant trunk and gives the team feedback
and opinions on why certain materials would be good to use or
not use when creating the trunk.

 The material manager (student three) will be in charge of
collecting all of the materials and supplies needed to make the
elephant trunk prosthetic model.
 The artist (student four) will be the student that makes a
sketch of the prototype of the elephant trunk.
 The researcher will be everyone in your team! Each teammate
is responsible for researching a specific part needed for the
elephant trunk and then working with your teammates to learn
how to put it together with the other parts to make a complete
elephant trunk prosthetic.
5. Once your group has assigned each member to a role, your next task
will be researching the different parts of an elephant trunk and
working on your assigned job. There are four parts your group will be
researching. The different parts of the trunk your group will research
 What physical features does the trunk consist of (fingers,
nostrils) (Student 1)
 Smelling, breathing, and drinking (Student 2)
 Eating and picking up materials (Student 3)
 Using trunk for social interaction (Student 4)
Each group member should look through the website pages below and fill
out your graphic organizer based on what job you were given. Only read the
page that the website takes you to.
Now that each group member has done some basic research on elephant
trunks, it is time to begin your personal research for your specific jobs.
Scroll down until you find your job, and then follow the steps.
Student 1
You will be researching physical features of the elephant trunk such as
fingers and nostrils.
Here are websites where you will find your information. Go to the specific
page the link takes you to and don’t stray away!
Site One:
Scroll down and look at the bullet points that say size and structure.

Site Two:
Use site two and look at number’s 1 and 3 on the 5 interesting facts about
elephant trunks.
Student 2
You will be researching how elephants use their trunks to smell, breathe, and
Here are websites where you will find your information. Go to the specific
page the link takes you to and don’t stray away!
Site One:
Read through site one to learn about elephants breathing system.
Site Two:
Watch this short YouTube video on why elephants use their trunks to drink.
Site Three:
Read through these facts about elephants to find out your desired
Student 2 is the only student in the group who needs to do further research
for their specific job. You are to research the history of the elephant trunk so
you can give your team information on why the elephant trunk is the way it
is and its evolution. You can give your team useful opinions on what
materials you think should be included in the trunk. Collect your information
you find in a graphic organizer found Here. Print off the graphic organizer
and fill it out with your historic research findings.
Go to these sites to find out the history of the elephant trunk and only look at
the page the link takes you to:
Student 3
You will be researching how elephants use their trunks to eat and pick up
materials. Only go to the page the hot link takes you to.

Site one:
Make sure to read fact number one!
Site two:
Scroll down to paragraph 5 and read paragraph 5 and 6.
Site Three:
Make sure to scroll through the beautiful pictures at the top of the page! You
can share this with your teammates if you would like!
Student 4
You will be researching how elephants use their trunks for social interaction.
Site One:
Scroll down to number 7.
Site Two:
Take a look at the caption under the first picture!
Site Three:
Take a look at this YouTube video of how elephants show their love!
Meeting One- After Research
 Now that each group member has completed his or her research, it is
time to come together to create our prosthetic elephant trunk model!
 You will come together to have a quick brain storming session and the
collector (student one) will take notes and then type it into a single
word document. This document needs to have each group member’s
name. There is no length requirement for this document. Include as
much meaningful information as you can! (You are allowed to use
bullet points)
 When you have your meeting, make sure to take a look at each
student’s graphic organizer.
 The Historian (student two) will also discuss their historic research
findings about elephant trunks in this meeting. You are to give your
input on what materials you think would be good to use/not use for
the elephant trunk.

 It is time to decide what materials you will choose to use to design
your model prosthetic elephant trunk. You must use at least 5
materials to design your trunk. The teacher will have certain
materials you can use. If you think of something else you would like
to use, your team is more than welcome to bring materials from home.
It is student three’s job to write down all materials needed for the
trunk on a blank piece of notebook paper. The materials provided
by the teacher are

Paper towel rolls
Construction paper
Pool noodles
Toilet paper rolls
Poster board

Make sure to answer these questions when choosing your materials:
o Will the design allow the elephant to breathe?
o How can we make it look realistic?
o Can we use flexible materials?
o Can the trunk attach to our body?
 After you have had your first meeting and decided on materials, the
artist (student four) will sketch a model of what the team thinks the
model trunk will look like. This will be on a piece of notebook paper.
This will not be assessed on looks; it will be assessed on whether you
have all of the materials in the sketch or not.

 The materials manager (student three) will go to the teacher and
collect the desired materials. You should have a piece of notebook
paper with the materials you would like to have. As stated above, the
materials the teacher will provide are

Paper towel rolls
Construction paper
Pool noodles
Toilet paper rolls
Poster board

Meeting Two- Designing the Model Prosthetic Elephant Trunk
 Once the group has the materials, it is time to assemble the trunk.
 Group members will work together to use the materials and create
your model prosthetic trunk.
 Make sure to look at the artist’s sketch and use all materials needed to
show that the elephant trunk has nostrils and can attach to the poster
 When you are finished assembling your model prosthetic elephant
trunk, you will call over your teacher.

 You will present to your teacher. Explain why you chose the materials
you did and what each material’s function is.
Materials to turn in to the teacher:
1. Student one: Turn in your word document of the group’s research.
Turn in your graphic organizer with your research over the physical
features of the elephant trunk such as nostrils and fingers.
2. Student two: Turn in your graphic organizer with your findings of the
history of the elephant trunk. Also, turn in your graphic over how
elephants use their trunks to drink, breathe, and smell.
3. Student three: Turn in your notebook paper with all materials that
were needed and used in the creation of your model prosthetic
elephant trunk. Also, turn in your graphic organizer over elephants use
their trunks to eat and pick up things.
4. Student four: Turn in your sketch of the model prosthetic elephant
trunk. You will also turn in your graphic organizer over how elephants
use their trunks for social interaction.

By completing this WebQuest, we have learned that we can use our
minds to create new body parts when old ones don’t work anymore. We have
learned how to create a model prosthetic elephant trunk by completing
research, brainstorming, and applying our knowledge to create a new trunk.
We worked with each other in groups, and reached our goal by using
You have put your minds to work and helped out a beautiful African
elephant! It is important to remember all of the things the elephant can do
now that it has its trunk. Think about everything we learned in our research.
The elephant can now eat, drink, smell, and use its trunk for love and social
interaction. I hope you continue to learn about prosthetics and all of the
wonderful help you could do in your future!


If you finish the WebQuest early, take a look at this video. It is about a
factory that makes prosthetic legs. How cool!

Additional Resources

Bloom, Steve, and David Henry Wilson. Elephants: A Book for
Children. London: Thames & Hudson, 2008. Print.
Capobianco, Brenda. "Learning Science through Engineering Design:
An Effective Approach to STEM Integration at the Elementary School
Level." (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Joubert, Beverly, and Dereck Joubert. Face to Face with Elephants.
Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2008. Print.
Kaster, Pam, and Susan Bishay. Molly the Pony: A True Story. New
York: Square Fish, 2012. Print.
Marzollo, Jean, and Laura Regan. Pierre the Penguin: A True Story.
Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear, 2010. Print.
North, Sharon Rae., and Tony Ross. My Brand New Leg. Lithonia,
GA: Northstar Entertainment Group, 2003. Print.
Oliver, Kristen. "Hall County Teacher Builds Student a Prosthetic
Hand." (2014): n. pag. 19 Dec. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Reyes, Gabrielle. Dolphin Tale: The Junior Novel. New York:
Scholastic, 2011. Print.
Richards, Jean, Rudyard Kipling, and Norman Gorbaty. How the
Elephant Got Its Trunk: A Retelling of the Rudyard Kipling Tale. New York,
NY: H. Holt, 2003. Print.
Willems, Mo. I Broke My Trunk! New York: Hyperion for Children,
2011. Print.

"Elephants Trunk." EleAid. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

"I Didn't Know That: Prosthetic Leg." I Didn't Know That: Prosthetic
Leg. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Macpherson, Erin. "WeAreTeachers: STEM: It's Elementary!" STEM:
It's Elementary! N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Pomeroy, Ross. "7 Facts You Didn't Know About Elephant Trunks |
RealClearScience." 7 Facts You Didn't Know About Elephant Trunks | Real
Clear Science, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
"The Elephant Trunk." The Elephant Trunk. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr.