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On Friday, February 28, “Take-Apart Day,” fourth graders deconstructed small appliances, household gadgets, and electronics in a culmination of their science unit on Simple Machines. Working with teachers Argie O’Shea and Craig Whiteford, in addition to members of Mr. Motsko’s Upper School AP Physics class, the fourth grade students gained insight into design and mechanics.
Video coverage by Cindy Green.


Take-Apart Day is a Hit

“Today is Take-Apart Day, not Smash-Apart day,” Lower School science teacher Craig Whiteford reminded the fourth grade. And by all accounts, it was a hit!

McDonogh’s first Take-Apart Day on Friday, February 28, was the culmination of the fourth grade science unit on Simple Machines and a wonderful opportunity to deconstruct small machines, devices, and gadgets to gain insight into design and mechanics. While interest in learning about machines was sparked in fourth grade science class, it was ignited when two members of the Upper School robotics team spoke to the students and gave them a tour of the robotics lab in The Naylor Building. When Take-Apart Day arrived, a group of seniors taking Advanced Physics, were on hand to share their knowledge and answer questions.

Thanks to the efforts of Whiteford and librarian Argie O’Shea, students had a wealth of machines from which to choose, including computers, telephones, audio equipment, and household appliances. Armed with screwdrivers and wire cutters, they opened familiar and sometimes unfamiliar machines and discovered interiors filled with wires, chips, motors, fans, and more. “Complicated machines are just lots of simple machines,” Whiteford reminded the students. And, big motors do big jobs.”

When students unearthed a fan used to cool an “ancient” computer hard drive, he demonstrated that the fan still worked when its wires were attached to a 9-volt battery. Fans, motors and other interesting components were relegated to the “too cool to throw out” table. The “cool” scraps will eventually be repurposed by the young engineers who will be tasked to create new machines from pieces of the old machines.

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McDonogh School | 410.363.0600 |
8600 McDonogh Road | Owings Mills | Maryland | 21117