The Engineering of Everyday Things -- Page 2 -- Lesson Plan

Structure & Function: Analysis of a Whole and its Parts

Lesson Plan by Allen Berg


I am not incurious;

I like to look at things, care-fully

and understand how they work.

Observation and then Description

are important tools of Science.

As you can see from the picture of the pen above,

Things have parts that make up the whole.

In this lesson, you will choose an object

and analyze its Structure and Function.

1. Name and define the object. (You can check a dictionary.)

The definition of an object is often its purpose (but not always...).

2. Draw a picture of the object as a whole and as its separate parts.

2a. Take digital photographs of the object as a whole and as its separate parts.

2b. Advanced students can use free 3-D software to produce computer-generated images.

3. Label each part and Describe the material each part is made of.

4. Explain the function of each part and the relationships among them.

(If the object has a Patent Number, go to "Google Patents Search" and type in the number,

you might get an A+ in Engineering 101 :-)

5. What country is the object made in? (Don't be surprised if it is China :-)

6. Evaluate the object:

a. Does it do the job it is supposed to do?

Rate its performance: poor, ok, good, excellent, etc.

b. What is the object’s durability?

How long does it last? Can you repair or replace the parts

or do you just throw it away?

c. What is its cost? Is this a “fair value”?

d. Would you recommend using this object? Why or why not?

e. Can you suggest improvements in its design?

List and explain your suggestions.

Provide a visual image(s) of your improved design.

"Improved design": the addition of a soft larger fingers grip…


7. Conclusion:

How does this object compare to similar objects, for use?

8. Any other comments you would like to make...

Page 3: Teacher's Guide List of Objects