Breaking it down
William Walker students explore design concepts through electronics
As a 9-year-old with presumably minimal workforce experience, Christian Merino disassembles an old Dell printer with considerably more care and delicacy than a grizzled office veteran whos cleared one too many a paper jam in his career.
Rather than seeking revenge on wayward office equipment, Merino removes screws, pins and other parts to figure out how the machine operates, or at least, how its components fit back together or work in another configuration.
Its fun because you get to take apart stuff and make stuff out of it, Merino says. We have to remember what we did, and we get to see whats inside.
Merino is among about 10 William Walker Elementary students taking part in the schools Junkyard Science workshop. The weekly hands-on session is part of the SHINE program, which several Beaverton district schools take part in to offer after-school and summer classes designed to enhance academic investment and inspire personal enrichment.
A William Walker teacher conceived Junkyard Science as a way to recycle used, unwanted electronic components while giving curious students a direct way to explore the inner-workings of a variety of technology. Liz Norman, the schools site manager for SHINE, picked right up on the idea as a perfect fit for the curriculum.
Gesturing toward the students eagerly engaging their small screwdrivers and tools to deconstruct the donated printers, computer towers and DVD players assembled on the desks before them, Norman assesses the popularity factor.
As you can see, theyre loving it, she says, adding, Science is my passion. I want to pass it along to students. This started as a conversation about how we can use recyclables and how we can use the community.
If something doesnt work (at home or the office), people can donate it, she adds. In this day of technology, even old things can be used or included as building blocks for new things.
The SHINE students are spending this semester of Junkyard Science focusing on inquiry and breaking down equipment to form a hypothesis of how it works. Next semester, with input from companies such as Nike and Intel, they will move on to work with engineers and other experts to explore practical design applications that could be developed in SHINEs Design Camp.
I like it because were discovering whats in computers and what kind of materials they used to make them, says Isaiah Avalos, 9, as he puts tools away to record what he discovered during Fridays lesson.
Theres things we get to discuss about technology, adds fourth-grader Angie Brionez, whos working on a computer tower with fifth-grader Dianna Santiago.
Ryan Mendoza, 9, enjoys getting to the heart of a toy car he disassembled.
I just like to unscrew stuff and make something new with it, he says. They let me take things apart, but its hard to put it back together.
William Walker Principal Joanne Hulquist is encouraged by what shes seen of Junkyard Science and other elements of the still-growing SHINE program.
I was really excited, she says of the original idea. The two big pieces, inquiry and engineering design, to me this has both of those. Taking things apart and learning how things work. Thats what we need (to prepare for) Design Camp.
Theres not a lack of people wanting to be involved, she adds. The coordination piece is the trickiest part.
Norman, who set up rigorous safety guidelines to protect children from toxins and other potentially dangerous parts of the equipment, makes a point to include safety and working together in the after-school class format.
Theyre working as a team and using their own personal approaches, she says. And its fun. They have a fun, safe place to go. Its better than watching TV at home.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT