Take It Apart, Put It Together

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SWBAT reinforce their understanding that things can be taken apart and recombined in novel ways.

Big Idea

Objects are made up of smaller parts. Students delight in taking things apart and this is one time when taking it apart will be encouraged.

Teacher Background

The purpose of this lesson is to reinforce the idea that things are made up of small parts that can be recombined in novel ways. It also shows that the shape of certain parts dictates their function. 

For this lesson it will be necessary to collect 4 or 5 broken appliances that do not contain dangerous parts. Old cd players, cameras, etc.can be used for this lesson.  You may want to take out batteries or other power sources, any breakable glass bulb parts, etc. to ensure that the no one can be hurt by taking the appliance apart.

Students will be working on journal writing with this lesson. Students will record what they discover and their methods as they work. 

I Can Statement

10 minutes

I invite students to read the I Can Statement with me. We read, "I can work like a scientist to record the steps I take to take something apart and identify the pieces it is made out of."

I ask students, "What do you think it means to work like a scientist to take something apart and identify the pieces it is made out of?" I let students share their ideas. The students have had experiences with taking things apart and putting them together so I hope that they will connect to this prior learning experience. 

"Today we will try to document our steps as we take some real things apart. We will journal what we do and how we do it. We will need to work in small groups and take turns being the writer and the one who takes the object apart. I would like you all to turn to the board as we talk about what we will put in our journals today."

Getting Ready to Take the Items Apart

10 minutes

I ask, "what do we need to start a scientific investigation?" (A Question - designing an investigation is something that students have had experience with in previous lessons so I am hoping they will make the connection here that they need a question. If they do not, I will remind them that we have started each investigation with a question to answer and then ask if we need a question here.)

"You are right that we need a question to start our investigation. What question might we want to ask?" I let students suggest questions. I am looking for something based on, 'how can we figure out what something is made out of, or is something made out of smaller parts?"  

Once we have framed a question I ask students, "what steps we might take to answer our question?" I record the steps on the board as students suggest them.  
"Do you think this is a good order for our investigation or should we rearrange the steps in some way and why might we do one before another?" 

I let students share their thoughts on the order of the steps until we agree on what we will need to do. 

"Now you will follow these steps in small groups. Each group will be given one object to take apart. Objects to Take Apart You have screwdrivers to use of different sizes. You should try not to just break your object. If you are not using the screwdriver, you should be recording what your partners are doing and what they remove or discover. You can do this in words and pictures. You will all be working in one journal together so by the time you are done, you will have one complete record of taking your object apart and the pieces you found."

I review the rules for small group work. I ask students to remind me of what they need to remember if they are going to be working in a group. I point out the group work chart posted on the wall and remind students to follow these rules as they work.

I check for questions. I divide the students into groups of 4 and then hand out the journal sheets to each group. I give each group a different object and 3 different sized screwdrivers. I tell them that they can begin. While they are working I circulate around the room and check that groups are recording what they are doing, as well as working together. 

Journaling Our Work

30 minutes

Students work to take their object apart. Taking An Object Apart and Finding What Is Inside They keep the pieces they remove. As one child works to take a piece off of the object, another student writes down what they are doing, such as, "he took out the screws and took the cover off." They may use drawings to represent their work as well. Inside of a Sander

As I move about the room, I encourage the journaling.Journal Entry I say, "I can see that ___ is working on the object right now, who is recording what he/she is doing?"  I also ask, "what have you recorded in your journal so far?" "Do you remember what this part of a science journal is called?" (The procedure). 

I use the journals Journal Entry 2 later to assess student understanding of how they record what they are doing as they are doing it. I am looking for statements and drawings of what was happening, and not just recalls at the end such as, "we took off the cover." 

Creating a Novel Object

15 minutes

I ask students to look at the pieces that they have removed from the object they have. "Do you think that you could put the pieces together in a different way? What do you think would happen if you tried to put the pieces together in a different way?" (We would get something different). "Would it probably work the same way or have the same purpose as the object you started with?" (No, when we recombine the pieces we will get something new and different.)

"I want you to spend about 15 minutes putting the pieces back together. You may add tape to your object, but nothing else other than what you started with. Each person in your group should get to add a part. I want each of you to pick up one piece you hope to add, starting with the person whose name begins with the letter closest to the beginning of the alphabet. Each person must add his/her piece and then record in the journal what you did, using words and drawings. Each drawing should show the pieces that were already there and the new piece added. When you are done you will have a set of pictures that show how you built your new object."

I check for understanding. Remind students of the importance of journaling, and then let them go to work. I move from group to group checking in, looking at the journals and asking questions.

After about 15 minutes I ring the bell and ask students to set their new object on their desks. I invite everyone to circulate around the room to look at the new objects and then to come to the rug.


10 minutes

When everyone is seated I ask, "how many of you think that you took something apart and found what it was made out of? Thumbs up if you think you did this." I look for how students feel they did with this.

I ask, "how many of you built something new with the pieces when you put it back together? Thumbs up. It looks like most of you think you took something apart and then put it together in a new way. Looking at your creations I would agree."

"Do you think that your new object could be used the same way as your original object? Why or why not?" I let students share their thoughts here.

I ask for final thoughts about this investigation.

"Many objects are made out of the same materials but they are not always put together the same way or for the same purpose. I think you have all proved that with your investigation and your journals today."