Where is my Screwdriver?

I keep a running list of things I never thought I’d say as a Library Media Specialist: quit eating the grass in your pocket; why are you smelling the book; no you can’t read better hanging your head upside down while laying on the table; stop pushing Olaf’s foot and making him sing; who let the lizard loose in the library; I realize numbers make your head hurt but you have to shelve the Dewey books, too. Recently, I added “Okay, seriously, who has my purple screwdriver? It’s my favorite.” to that list. Why would a student have my favorite purple screwdriver? Collaboration!

Within the frameworks for our 6th grade students is a target goal of labeling the inside working parts of a computer. I’m a very hands-on learner, as are most students. At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, I started keeping a stash of nonworking CPU’s that were being discarded from our district and local banks (collaboration with the local community).

During a lesson planning session, my partner teacher (computer lab instructor) and I decided it was time to “teach” students the inside working parts of a computer. Prior to the deconstruction of the CPU’s, the students watched The Magic School Bus Gets Programmed. It is a little out-dated, but who doesn’t love a good episode of The Magic School Bus? During the viewing of the video, students were listening for keywords and descriptions of the parts they would need to identify: floppy disc (outdated term), hard drive, motherboard, CPU, RAM. We discussed the difference in storage devices from the video to the storage device options on our computers (compact disc drive) to the mysterious cloud. During the deconstruction stage, students’ conversations kept relating back to the video!


Before beginning deconstruction, we reviewed the internal parts by watching a short PowerPoint presentation and playing a virtual matching game. Then, students labeled the parts on a worksheet (gotta have that evidence of learning). Groups were set with four students at each table and were given a CPU and a screwdriver. After that, students got busy deconstructing the CPU’s. As students worked, my partner and I walked around to discuss the process with students, what they were seeing, and other parts that were not on the video or PowerPoint presentation.

Students truly loved getting to deconstruct computers and collaborate with their groups. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t some competition among groups as to who could tear out the most parts first.

20151215_121419The ‘guts’ of the computers and their casings have been displayed on the library bookshelves. The 6th grade students have taken great pride in sharing their deconstruction stories and telling about the computer parts to younger students during library free flow times; and, the younger students have taken a great interest in the various parts on display in the library. During our Lunch in the Library time, students have further deconstructed some of the computers and are using the pieces for art, jewelry, and other creative items!

I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to do this. Our tech department has already been given notice to keep us in mind when discarding CPU’s! 20151215_121429


Author: Ashley Cooksey

Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Makerspaces/Learning Commons, STEM/STEAM, Technology

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1 reply

  1. Ashley,
    This is a wonderful post! I really like the way you gave students a learning task while watching the video and connected the concepts to the “stuff” inside the CPU.

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