Brain and spinal cord development begin with the folding of the embryonic neural tissue into a tube. Many of the molecular and cellular processes which drive neural tube folding have been elucidated in animal models. However, understanding how these microscopic activities integrate to drive forces and shape changes at the tissue scale remains a challenge. To address this issue, we developed a human stem-cell system that self-organizes into a neural tube in a dish. Our system offers quantitative control over experimental parameters, and a unique opportunity to understand the biomechanics of human neural tube formation in health and disease.