Grant Spotlight – Simulating the Industrial Revolution with Tinker Toys

Simulating the Industrial Revolution with Tinker Toys

Lauren Morando, Heather Walker, Andrew Augustyn, Alex Dickerson
Clifford Pierce Middle School Gr. 8
550 students – $81.70

Round 34 for Spring 2019; implemented in school year 2019-2020

This project will allow students to draw their own conclusions about the Industrial Revolution. In this hands-on, high-energy, student-centered simulation, students will work in small collaborative groups and independently to learn the function of interchangeable parts.

First, students will be placed into small, same-sized groups. There will also be 2-3 students working independently, depending on the class period and size. Then, all students will be shown an item made with Tinker Toys. Each group will receive that item and have the opportunity to look at how it was constructed. Then, students will deconstruct the item completely, noting the order in which it was taken apart.

Next, students will be given the task to build that item with their group or on their own as quickly as possible. During the first few rounds, the students working on their own will create the item faster than those working in groups. However, the students working in groups will start to realize that if they split up their pieces evenly and do one step at a time, they can create the item more quickly, demonstrating the efficiency of interchangeable parts in the factory system. Essentially, they are developing an assembly line using interchangeable parts.

By participating in this simulation, students are learning about the shift from domestic production to mass production and how interchangeable parts influenced industrial growth. The best part is, the students are the driving force in their learning.

The purpose of this grant was to use a set of Tinker Toys in Pierce Middle School’s 8th grade history classes to help students better understand the Industrial Revolution. The class was broken into multiple teams of four and a few independent workers, and they followed the procedure explained in the application. Times of each round were recorded and later discussed. Each class did the activity for an average of seven rounds, with build times starting at over 2 minutes and the fastest times being under 20 seconds! This led to a discussion of not just interchangeable parts and assembly line production, but also skilled vs. unskilled labor which then led to the topic of the labor movement.

One of our goals is to help students be college and career ready. The funding of this grant allowed our students to use higher order thinking skills while also directly learning Social Studies content and have fun while doing all this.


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