Workbench/Take-Apart Centre









By Les Asselstine


Create a centre where students will have the opportunity to use various tools to disassemble an assortment of discarded mechanical or electrical devices. This centre provides students with opportunities to use and develop the skills of: observing. inferring, predicting, estimating, measuring, classifying, communicating, analyzing, evaluating, problem solving.
… and explore the concepts of matter, size, texture, mass, shape, change, energy, space, resource.



  • bench with one or two wide-jaw vices
  • safety goggles
  • assortment of regular -sized and precision-sized screwdrivers
  • precision wrench set
  • hex (Allen) wrenches
  • small adjustable wrench
  • needle-nose pliers
  • magnifiers
  • clamps
  • an assortment of discarded mechanical or electrical devices that can be disassembled.  (Remove cords from electrical devices.)

Safety Note: 

When choosing items to be disassembled, avoid anything that might pose a safety concern (e.g. –electrical, combustible, caustic, explosive, sharp or easily shatters ).

Teaching/Assessment Strategies

  • Involve the students in developing and monitoring safety rules.

e.g.– use of goggles

              – number of people at the centre

              – consideration of others

              – clean-up

  • Items to be taken apart should be introduced a few at a time.
  • Allow time for self-directed exploration with the tools and the materials to be taken apart.
  • Display pictures that show the insides of the types of things that might be taken apart.
  • Ask questions to extend activity and thought.

e.g..– How does this work?

              – What do you do with this?

              – What tools will you need to get this apart?

              – What could we do with these parts?

  • Place paper and writing materials at the centre so that students might illustrate or write in relation to their work.

Performance Criteria

Through observation and direct communication, assess how well the student:

  • chooses and uses a tool appropriate for the task
  • works safely
  • perseveres to complete a task
  • manipulates tools to complete a task
  • describes a tool and its use
  • describes a sequence or order of tasks
  • communicates instructions
  • explains cause/effect relationships.

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