Teach middle school students about the importance of the industrial revolution through activities that involve assembly lines. Illustrate the innovation and effectiveness of an assembly line by setting up mini-factories in the classroom. As students participate in forming an assembly line, their understanding of the effectiveness of teamwork and cooperation will grow.
Use this assembly-line activity to teach students the basics of how an assembly line works. Discuss with the children the concept of an assembly line and ask students to share what benefits they think can come from an assembly line. Set up a paper cube-making factory in the classroom by assigning each student a task such as cutting out the sides, folding the edges, gluing the sides together, coloring the cubes and checking the quality. Pass out a stack of paper, and scissors, glue, crayons and markers to the students. Instruct the students to move their desks or table any way they want to form the line. Give the students a 10-to 15-minute time limit and set a goal for the number of cubes they need to produce. Discuss the results after the time is up.
Assembly Line Race
Teach children about the innovations and benefits of assembly lines by setting up an assembly-line race. Divide the class into two or more groups and explain that each group is a separate car-making company. Allow the students to name their company and set up a leader or job foreman. Instruct the foreman to assign jobs to each student. Give each group a stack of papers containing a car pattern. Explain to the children that they need to cut out the patterns, color them completely and glue the pieces together. Set a previously completed car model in front of the class to illustrate what the end project should look like. Set a time limit and start the clock. The factory that produces the most correctly assembled cars wins.
Use this activity to illustrate the effectiveness of assembly lines in mass production versus individual workers. Separate the class into two equal groups. Determine a product that the factory will assemble such as sandwiches, Lego houses or paper airplanes. Assign the first group to be factory workers and instruct them to create an assembly line to produce the product. Assign the second group to be individual workers and explain that they will each work individually to assembly the product. Set a 10-minute time limit and start the clock. At the end of the time, count up how many products were correctly assembled by each group. The assembly line group should have produced more items. Discuss the results with the students.
Cookie Assembly Line
Students can discover how assembly lines encourage teamwork and creativity in this simple activity. Split the middle school students up into groups of four or five. Give each group a package of Nilla wafers, frosting, sprinkles, jelly beans and Gummy Worms. Instruct the students to invent a product using these materials and draw a picture of it. After each group has come up with a product, instruct the teams to form an assembly line and produce their products. The group will have to work together to make the product vision a reality. Explain how businesses use this same process in manufacturing products today.
- Teachers.net: The Assembly Line
- Learn NC: Car Mania: The Legacy of the Industrial Revolution
- "Dynamite in the Classroom: a How-To Handbook for Teachers"; Sandra Schurr, et al.; 1989
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