Teenage Boy Builds Artificial Arms Using Lego

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. rudimentary / ˌruːdəˈmɛntəri / (adj) – basic

    Old machines can only perform rudimentary tasks.

  2. functional / ˈfʌŋkʃənl̟ / (adj) – practical and useful

    Smartphones are very functional because they allow us to watch videos and take photos.

  3. wear and tear / ˈweɚ ən ˈteɚ / (idiom) – damage, usually from regular use

    My kid’s favorite toy is already showing some wear and tear.

  4. tenacity / təˈnæsəti / (n) – the quality of being very determined

    I admire your tenacity to invent things even if your inventions don’t always work.

  5. acclaim / əˈkleɪm / (n) – recognition or praise

    The team’s very practical invention gained acclaim from the public.


Read the text below.

A 19-year-old student from Spain built artificial arms out of Lego blocks.

Bioengineering student David Aguilar was born without a right forearm. As a child with such a condition, Aguilar felt uncomfortable around other people. However, he did not let his condition affect him negatively and eventually built his own artificial arm using Lego.

Aguilar put together his first artificial arm at age nine. He assembled a rudimentary arm in five days by taking a helicopter Lego set apart. However, the arm could only do a few things, like pick up light objects.

At 18 years old, the young inventor created his second arm using a Lego plane set. He added a motor, which allowed him to carry heavier objects and move with more ease. That same year, he built a more functional arm using a Lego crane set. It could move up and down, and open and close.

In early 2019, Aguilar finished his fourth and latest model. Unlike the previous models, it looked the most like a regular hand. It could do the same things as his previous Lego arms but with less wear and tear.

Aguilar’s creative inventions did not go unnoticed and even earned some recognitions. In fact, a spokesperson from Lego said that Aguilar’s tenacity inspires the company. Aguilar also received acclaim from the International University of Catalonia, and he got a silver medal of the Universal League of the Public Good from Paris.

Aguilar has expressed bigger plans after finishing his degree in bioengineering. Using his knowledge, the young inventor plans to create affordable artificial body parts for people in need.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How do you think David Aguilar’s story will impact others with a similar condition?
• Apart from making artificial arms, how else do you think Aguilar can use his skill with Lego?

Discussion B

• If you could invent something from Lego blocks, what would it be? Why?
• Why do you think some children’s toys inspire inventions? Discuss.