Electronic Toy Dissection
This is a skill-building activity that allows students to “see” technology (circuits, etc.), understand assembly and learn to use tools. They also get a chance to see what makes some of their favorite toys, games and electronic devices work. I have done this project with electronic toys and other electronics like phones, faxes, computers, printers and more. Children seem to relate best to toys so that is what I use most. Creativity really kicks in when students begin to make their own things out of parts. You will see elaborate “steampunk” inventions and macabre characters that appear to be straight out of the Toy Story movie series.
1. Electronic toys (working or not).
2. Screwdrivers, pliers, scissors (small phillips head screwdrivers will be the most used tool).
3. Small cardboard boxes, masking tape and duct tape (if you are doing the machine making activity).
Click on the images below to see the items at Amazon. I have tried to pick links with the best value and price from Amazon but you might want to search a bit for the price and quantities that suit your needs.
1. Have a toy and tools at your station.
2. Remove the batteries from your toy. Store or dispose of them properly.
3. Use your tools to take your toy apart and dis-assemble it as much as you want.
4. Keep the screws and small parts in your plastic bag.
5. Use the parts to create something else – it can be an imaginary machine with parts taped to a box or you can re-assemble a car with new chassis and wheels. The main thing is to use your imagination and the parts that you salvaged.
HOW TO PRESENT IT TO YOUR GROUP:
1. Assign teams of 2-4 students to each toy and tool station. All toys are not created equal so we sometimes have teams pick a number out of a bag and they are assigned to that toy. This adds a dimension of fun to the day.
2. Talk to students about how the items that they take for granted can often contain very advanced technology. Let them know that they are taking the toy apart and salvaging the parts to create their own imaginary techno- logical invention.
3. Have students first remove any batteries and put them in a proper disposal place.
4. Students will start dis-assembling. Remember that tool skills are a learned thing; many of the students need help getting things apart. Remind them to put screws and small parts in bags.
5. The teams can either build something new together or divide the parts and each work separately.
6. Give each inventor a box, their parts, access to tape and see what they come up with.
Learning to use tools properly and keeping track of parts is an important skill. Seeing the working mechanical and technical insides of objects that we take for granted is a mind-opening experience for both children and adults.
Circuits, computer chips, screwdrivers, springs, wiring