Friday, August 15, 2014

Tech Teardown Thursday - Getting Geeky in Technology Class

NOTE : This blog post describes taking apart some electronic devices in class.  I shared with my students, and should note here, that tearing into a computer power supply could have risks as explained in this story.

Groups working on different objects in Teardown Tech Thursday
Taking apart a TV on Tech Teardown Thursday
This week in my 8th grade technology class we tried something that I thought about doing last year but never accomplished.  The vibe this year is all about taking some chances and learning from your attempts.  Yesterday we did "Tech Teardown Thursday" in which we took apart several electronics to see what is inside.

Our technology class is a combination of learning how to use Google Apps, editing video and audio, using MakeyMakey kits, coding, etc.  The more I have researched and studied the maker movement has emphasized that students should know a little more about the nuts and bolts of computers and electronics.  They are not all going to go home and built their own computer but there is a sense of wonder when they see the circuit board inside a TV.

Tech Teardown Thursday - working on a speaker
I didn't want students to just tear into a TV or a radio without a purpose so I created a sheet for the students to complete as they did the teardown.  First recording what the object is, when it was made, etc.  As the take apart the object they are writing down observations about what they see and what questions they have about the things they are discovering. The lab sheet concludes with thoughts on what questions they still have and what they learned during the teardown.

Earlier in the week I had bought several sets of screwdrivers from the Dollar Store (but now know that I also need to bring some pliers and probably some needle-nose pliers as well).  I needed to get some electronics to be torn down and had one old CD player/radio at home that didn't work anymore but wanted to get at least 4 items so that students could break up into groups and work on an object in a small group.  I visited Savers, a local thrift store, and asked if there was any way I could get some electronics that people had donated but didn't work.  They cheerfully said I could come in every couple of weeks and they would save some items for me to pick up and use in class.  If it doesn't work they just throw it away so they seemed happy to help out knowing someone would get good out of it.

Tech Teardown Thursday - taking apart a CD player / radio
The objects we had this first week were a CD/radio, a small TV, a car stereo and a speaker.  The students loved opening them up and seeing what was inside.  They didn't know what most of it was but they were intrigued to find out more later.  Some good topics started in various groups - Why is there a really strong magnet at the center of the speaker? Interest in the how the tuner used gears to move inside the radio.  How the LCD screen on the car stereo is connected to the microchip? There was a lot of interest and the next day one of the students said he went home and took apart an old X-Box because he wanted to see inside after our activity in class.

We have a glass display case in the hallway by our classroom and this year we will be displaying the parts and components of the things we teardown in tech class.  It will help generate an interest among students walking by in the hall and share what we find.

Working with a car stereo on Tech Teardown Thursday
I would like to do this activity in class every couple of weeks and see if we can identify and understand more of the components later in the semester. Lessons learned include having students slow down and observe more as they work on the teardown.  They want to just rip into it.  Also, remind them to be very careful as they use the screwdrivers and work with sharp pieces of metal inside these objects.

If you have experience in doing teardown activities please add a comment to this blog post.  I would love to learn from others doing similar things in their class. Thanks.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. My name is Kellie Cuhaj and I am currently a student at the University of South Alabama. I am taking a course that teaches us how to use technology in the classroom. Our class blog is EDM310. I think your tech teardown is an interesting idea. It is something that I have never seen done in a classroom. It goes beyond just using the technology and gives the students a chance to use their observation methods. I will be summarizing my visits to your blog on my own class blog which can be found at <a href=">Kellie's Blog</a>. Please feel free to stop by.