Electronics Tear Down

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SWBAT identify structures and functions of electronic devices.

Big Idea

Students will reverse engineer a product to build understanding that engineers combine electronic components to create a desired outcome.


10 minutes

In the weeks prior to this lesson, I asked my parents to send in electronics that they no longer wanted for us to study.  I received enough to have groups of 4 or less students with each component, but electronics are available at thrift stores very inexpensively.  I cut electrical power cords off of everything that had a plug and removed batteries to reduce the risk of electrical hazard. 

Before the lesson, I wrote the name of each device on slips of paper for assigning students into groups.

I began by having students write down the focus question, "How can you identify structures and their functions?," in their science notebooks.  I drew a T-chart on the white board, and labeled the left side "structures," and the right side "functions."  I explained that all technology we use today can be understood by examining its structures and their functions.  I showed them a few minutes of an iPad Tear Down video (this specific video isn't critical).  I kept the sound off so and explained that there are many videos like this one on YouTube because people use them to make their own repairs, or just to understand their devices better.

I held up a pencil, and asked them to identify some structures, that they noticed, and then describe their functions.  After we add a few to the chart, I had them draw and label the T-chart in their notebooks.


30 minutes

I brought them up to our science lab (an unused classroom with high, durable tables, and lots of extra supplies) because I wanted groups to have adequate room to work without worrying about losing a component.  I identified each component so they would know where to go, and explained their job was to record the structures and functions in their T-chart in their notebooks, as well as use post it notes to identify the structures they found.

I had each student draw slips with the name of a component from the bucket to assign them to groups.  As soon as they drew slips, they put on their goggles and got started.  I required the goggles because they knew they didn't need to reassemble the components, so they weren't being particularly gentle.  I circulated to make sure students were being safe, staying on task, and taking turns.  I brought in a few sets of small screwdrivers, but not everyone had just what they needed, so I also facilitated some trading of tools.

In this video, you'll see the students in this group were very engaged in dismantling the clock radio, but they needed some prompting to record their ideas..



5 minutes

I gave my class a 5 minute warning and reminded them they needed at least 5 structures labeled with Post It notes, as well as recorded in their notebooks with functions.  After 5 minutes, I had them take a walking tour to see what other tables identified.  I asked them to look for structures and functions they had in common.

When we got back to the classroom, I chose 5 students at random to turn in science notebooks for formative assessment.