Day 92: Toy Take Apart

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Phew! We’ve barely paused to breathe, let alone reflect on our work these last two days. That’s why, this morning, we started the class off with a reflection. It went great and I think parts are generalizable so worth sharing: we gave every kid a marker and asked them to write three things they observed yesterday at Decatur Makers directly on the butcher paper covering their table. Then, they were to discuss with their table group and come up with a single image to represent the trip. Finally, everyone moved to each table in the room to see what their classmates wrote about. I’m convinced of one thing — butcher paper should cover every desk in every room ALL THE TIME. I love that students can sketch, explain to each other, and make notes right where they sit.

We then moved on to the toy take apart project. We provide the students with a mechanical toy and the tools to disassemble them. The goal is to understand what makes these toys work as well as harvest parts useful for future maker projects. For us, we’re most concerned about fur (check out tomorrow’s post) and motors.


We were fortunate to get two of the same happy elephants and students were excited to put them next to each other to compare external vs internal views:

One of the hardest things to balance teaching a short course like this is grading. We assign homework nightly, which the students submit on Schoology. Most are short reflections. Reading reflections always falls lower on my priority list than making the inevitable last-minute trip to Home Depot for parts we need tomorrow. So much piles up and I hate that I can’t keep up.

But enough complaining about the grading. Here’s a wooden box one of the students made from pallet wood:


Let us remember

  • the 3 times we’ve recovered the tables: students keep writing, gluing, or staining on their tables, so we keep changing out the paper. I love it!
  • the 4 electrical components we have soldered: LED, resistor, transistor, photocell
  • the 6 power tools we’re confident with: mitre saw, drill, palm sander, rotary tool, jig saw, circular saw
  • the 15 pallets we’ve wrecked: they live on as wooden boxes
  • the 20 mechanical toys we’ve destroyed: a zoo’s worth of animals, ranging in size from the giant tiger to the tiny turtle; all with internal mechanisms

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