Greener BeeGreen ElectronicsOur Schools: Deconstructing electronics to learn about waste

At Myrtle Philip Community School, students in Mr. Zigar and Mrs. Roth’s Grade 2/3 class were asked to bring in a broken or obsolete electronic object to explore and learn about.  

Students deconstructed these objects to discover where they were made, what materials were used and how these objects would later be disposed of. Excited for this opportunity, the class got straight to business disassembling their objects using a variety of tools. Explanations about the different components and why some of the materials should be handled with care were elements of the project.

The following is a refection of the project by Natasha Allars, who is in Grade 3: Our project was called Deconstruction, and the purpose was to explore the inside of old electronics and then use the parts to re-build something new and to research where our electronics came from. The students in my class were asked to bring in an old piece of electronic equipment to use for this project. I bought an old TV / VCR from the Re-Use It Centre to take apart in class.

Through this process, I learned about what parts and materials are used to build electronics, how they fit together and where they come from. We found metal, plastic and wire inside our electronic objects. The parts were blue, red, yellow, white, green, silver and gold.

The most common part we found were screws. We discovered most of the electronics our class brought in were made somewhere in Asia.

A lot of the parts of my object were made from glue, plastic, metal and wires. I feel sad that a lot of the parts can’t be recycled. The space in the dumps will fill up and we won’t have as much nature.

As we all had to bring in our own electronic device it meant that no two projects were the same. Even two similar TVs were not constructed the same inside. I found it interesting working with tools and unusual materials. This process of learning was different from learning from a textbook because of the individuality and originality of our projects. In a textbook, the class all works on the same question, and you don’t get as much opportunity to explore new things.

Once we had deconstructed our item, we drew up plans for what art project we were going to make with our electronics. I made mine into a dog crate for my stuffy. I used the TV cover/shell to make the outside of the crate. I used circuit boards and microchips to decorate the inside. I also braided some yarn for a carrying handle. I really enjoyed working on this project as it combined art, research, fictional story writing, deconstructing, presenting, trading parts with classmates and planning.

Mr. Zigar had each student write a fictional story about their object or who might have assembled it. He also asked us to think about how we make plastic or metals and where in the world they get the raw materials.

In the end we all had to present our art project and explain what we created. We also had to do a presentation about our object, explaining the interesting and important information that we discovered. After the project Mr. Zigar plans to take as much to the recycle centre as possible.

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