Hands sprout in the air, and engineer Bruce Kizerian picks one from the forest of arms.

Aaron Wengert, of Hillside Elementary, is selected to try on the cuff that controls the artificial arm, a sophisticated robotic device developed at the University of Utah. He moves his hand, wrist and shoulder. The robotic arm Kizerian holds shadows the sixth-grader's movements."In addition, this arm will do something that I'd like to see anybody here do," Kizerian said, issuing a challenge. And as hundreds of eyes watch, Aaron makes the artificial hand rotate round and round.

"Wow," and "Hey, cool," are the responses from the crowd.

Kizerian asks the sixth-graders - whom he refers to as "scholars" - what robotics are used for.

"Work," is one answer. "To find things," is another. "As maids," is the third.

"I'd bet you'd like that, wouldn't you," Kizerian responds.

The students seated in the Olpin Union building laugh loudly.

The device demonstrated for the schoolchildren Tuesday is battery-powered and controlled by electrical signals in the amputee's body. The artificial arm and hand can cost from $24,000 to $34,000 to build, said Kizerian, a U. mechanical engineer at the Center for Engineering Design.

It takes lot of math and English homework, as well as hard work in science and social studies classes, to be able to program robotic devices, Kizerian said, a brief stay-in-school commercial offered during "Project Youth."

Tuesday's workshops flooded the University of Utah campus with 2,500 sixth-graders, matching them with 450 college student role models. The U.'s Bennion Community Service Center invited elementary students from "high-risk" areas - students who might need encouragement to consider graduating from high school and continuing on to college.