Craft & Design Technology
Photo gallery – Turning trash to treasure
dsu.jpg

Last week at the Duxbury Student Union, Lee Pulis and I held a workshop on using trash to learn about electricity, design and mechanical devices. We used CD drives from old computers. Inside the drives we found motors, gears, switches, and lots of interesting looking stuff. The main tools were small phillips head screwdrivers and pliers. We had some copper tape on hand, some batteries and electrical tape. Other tan the new batteries, everything we used for supplies and tools was either from the dump or a local discount store for cheap.

What started out as two boxes of computer parts was soon spread out over tables and laps in various states of disassembly. Our intention was to show that there are lots of interesting things inside the castoffs of our modern society, and from this junk, we can find the ideas, inspiration and supplies for many projects. Participants were aged from 5th to 9th grade, and everybody seemed to have a nice time.

We used some AA batteries for power, mostly just one battery per motor. There was a lot more that we could have gotten to, like wiring batteries in series to increase voltage, controlling the circuit with a switch, lighting LEDs and a lot more. Two and a half hours went pretty quickly. Several youth had devices that were pretty close to the Vibrobot from the cover of Make 10 by closing time.

Check out the photos

Have you tried teaching with junk? What does working with castoff parts show you about design, history of technology, circuit design, the way kids think?

If you are in a school, how do other teachers, administrators or students think about projects like this? Does it matter that not everybody is going to end up with similar or exactly alike outcomes? Where can a project like this lead to? How do projects like this encourage learning, exploration and inquiry? Post up in the comments with your thoughts and opinions!

6 thoughts on “Photo gallery – Turning trash to treasure

  1. My 5 yr old son and have had wonderful times taking stuff apart (the latest was a few old computer mice and a belt sander). Sometimes, we build something new with the parts, othertimes he just gets to figure out how stuff works. We cannot pass a garage sale now without him asking to stop and find some old electronics we can take apart. He has a toolbox that is full of screws and springs he has found (just in case he needs him). I understand completely and my wife thinks we are both insane.

    Imagine my delight when i found out that his kindergarten teacher does the same in class! She brings stuff in, gives the kids gloves and goggles, and lets them go at it. Let me tell you – this is one inspiring lady.

    I grew up making with my grandfather – he was a classic scrounger. If we were building a car- we would go to the dump to look for wheels. He had a huge 8′ lathe he had built and welded himself when he couldn’t find something to work in his shop. I only hope that i can pass on half the inspiration he gave to me to my son.

    I run a junior making club here in Cincinnati for my friends and their kids, ages 5-10. So far, we have made homemade speakers and air rockets. Next project definitely needs to involve something from the scrap heap!

  2. My 5 yr old son and have had wonderful times taking stuff apart (the latest was a few old computer mice and a belt sander). Sometimes, we build something new with the parts, othertimes he just gets to figure out how stuff works. We cannot pass a garage sale now without him asking to stop and find some old electronics we can take apart. He has a toolbox that is full of screws and springs he has found (just in case he needs him). I understand completely and my wife thinks we are both insane.

    Imagine my delight when i found out that his kindergarten teacher does the same in class! She brings stuff in, gives the kids gloves and goggles, and lets them go at it. Let me tell you – this is one inspiring lady.

    I grew up making with my grandfather – he was a classic scrounger. If we were building a car- we would go to the dump to look for wheels. He had a huge 8′ lathe he had built and welded himself when he couldn’t find something to work in his shop. I only hope that i can pass on half the inspiration he gave to me to my son.

    I run a junior making club here in Cincinnati for my friends and their kids, ages 5-10. So far, we have made homemade speakers and air rockets. Next project definitely needs to involve something from the scrap heap!

  3. Brad
    Sounds like the making of a clever and independent individual. Keep it up. Send in some more info about your club, it would be nice to share.

    Thanks

Comments are closed.

Tagged

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.

View more articles by Chris Connors