Take it apart, put it together

Beth McKenna
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity , Experiment/Lab Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This is a wonderfully supported and creative lesson that involves students taking apart an old appliance and making a new object using the appliance parts. The teacher guides students using a variety of teacher prompts and individual journaling to track their idea development, questions, changing plans, and evidence-based explanations. 

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Elementary School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

2-PS1-3 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.

Clarification Statement: Examples of pieces could include blocks, building bricks, or other assorted small objects.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The Performance Expectation is explicitly met through the lesson. The alignment to the Performance Expectation could be strengthened by providing extra prompts that focus on looking for evidence in student answers (i.e., prompting what the students need to include in their explanations to sound like scientists; where the students might find evidence in their journals).

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students make first-hand observations and record them in their journals. They then share their evidence based accounts using the objects and the journals to support their claims.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The teacher could explicitly prompt the students to notice, state or list the many different objects that were created by the student teams, and emphasize that a great variety was produced by student ingenuity. The lesson implicitly focuses on the great variety of objects created after the being taken apart, but it could be stated or written by students and then supported by a chart or journal entry.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This Crosscutting Concept is explicitly met through the enactment of the lesson. Journaling or charting about the different objects (i.e., write in your journal two or more different shapes that were created with the pieces) could strengthen the connection to the Crosscutting Concept.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson is in the aligned to spirit of the NGSS Performance Expectation. The alignment to the three-dimensions is strong, and the accessibility for second graders is excellent. Students not only address the Performance Expectation, but they begin with an object that is already constructed, take it apart, build something new, journal, and then explain what they did with the materials and how it was accomplished.

  • Instructional Supports: There are many opportunities for instructional supports throughout the lesson. Student language is supported through engaging with the phenomenon, and then scaffolded through writing, drawing, and discussing with partners. The lesson could be easily modified for students with special learning needs.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The opportunities in the lesson for formative assessment are varied and rich. The formative assessment in the lesson could be strengthened by putting together a rubric for teachers to assess progress toward the three dimensions, using student work samples to gain insight into their understanding. Based on these student artifacts, teacher could discern where students are in their thinking and how to deepen student understanding.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The technology works well in the lesson -- there are videos, and photos, etc.