Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Swivel hook fastener

Swivel hook fastener (PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay)

Finding Out About Fasteners

Let's Talk Science
Format
Text,  Images
Technology & Engineering
Characteristics of Objects

Summary

Students develop and apply sorting & classifying, comparing & contrasting and communicating skills as they examine different kinds of fasteners and their uses.

Overview

Students examine different fasteners and sort and classify them based on their characteristics and uses.

Timing

30-45 minutes

Setting the Stage

Objects have many parts that need to be joined together. While younger students will be most familiar with fasteners/joiners used on their clothing, this inquiry is designed to broaden their thinking by looking at a wide variety of fasteners and how they are the same and different.

This inquiry could begin from:

  • questions and/or comments from the students as they dress to go outside in winter. Discuss using questions such as:
    • “What happened to your jacket when you were getting dressed to go outside today?” 
    • “Why did your boot fall off?”
    • “How do you make sure your mittens don’t get lost?”
Mittens on a string
Mittens on a string (Source: Bin im Garten [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
  • an unfamiliar fastener (e.g., a toggle, a hose connector) left on the table for the students to explore. Discuss using questions such as:
    • “I wonder what this object is used for?”
    • “What do you notice about it? Does it look like anything you have seen before?”
    • “Where might we find this object? Who might use it?”
Jacket toggle
Jacket toggle (Source: Silvia Wiegmann via Pixabay).
  • observations and conversations while putting together a new table for the classroom. Discuss using questions such as:
    • “What did you notice about the fasteners for our new table?”(e.g., the screws came with a special screwdriver to help us attach them)
    • “What are some other things in our room that need to be joined or held together?”
Allen Wrenches
Allen Wrenches (Source: Brent_Hondow via Pixabay).

Details

Materials
  • a wide variety of fasteners:
    • clothing fasteners such as: buttons, Velcro, zippers, snaps, hooks and eyes, frog fasteners, laces, mitten clips, safety pins, buckles
    • fasteners from the office such as tape, glue, staples, thumb tacks, paper clips, brass fasteners (split pins)
    • fasteners from the workshop such as cable ties, bungee cords, hose connectors, screws, nuts and bolts, duct tape, clamps, vices
    • fasteners from home such as baby safety latches, bread clips, chip clips, door latches, magnets, suction cups, hair clips, twist ties, clothespins
  • a bin or basket for the fasteners
Collection of fasteners
Collection of fasteners (©2019 Let's Talk Science).

 

Materials
  • a wide variety of fasteners:
    • clothing fasteners such as: buttons, Velcro, zippers, snaps, hooks and eyes, frog fasteners, laces, mitten clips, safety pins, buckles
    • fasteners from the office such as tape, glue, staples, thumb tacks, paper clips, brass fasteners (split pins)
    • fasteners from the workshop such as cable ties, bungee cords, hose connectors, screws, nuts and bolts, duct tape, clamps, vices
    • fasteners from home such as baby safety latches, bread clips, chip clips, door latches, magnets, suction cups, hair clips, twist ties, clothespins
  • a bin or basket for the fasteners
Collection of fasteners
Collection of fasteners (©2019 Let's Talk Science).

 

Preparation
  • Put a basket or bin of a variety of fasteners on a table in the classroom.
  • Think about a learning strategy such as Sorting Mats to support students’ development of the skill of sorting and classifying.
Preparation
  • Put a basket or bin of a variety of fasteners on a table in the classroom.
  • Think about a learning strategy such as Sorting Mats to support students’ development of the skill of sorting and classifying.
What to Do

Students develop the skills of Comparing & Contrasting and Predicting as they learn about different kinds of fasteners and how they are used. 

Students:

  • explore the materials in the bin individually and/or in small groups.
    • Educator engages with students during this inquiry, noticing and naming what students have done and asking questions that provoke further development of the skills of sorting, classifying, comparing and contrasting.
    • Educator observes and documents students’ initial interactions with the materials. This documentation should include questions raised by the students to determine the direction for future learning.
Sorting fasteners
Sorting fasteners (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
Sorting fasteners
Sorting fasteners (© 2019 Let’s Talk Science).

 

What to Do

Students develop the skills of Comparing & Contrasting and Predicting as they learn about different kinds of fasteners and how they are used. 

Students:

  • explore the materials in the bin individually and/or in small groups.
    • Educator engages with students during this inquiry, noticing and naming what students have done and asking questions that provoke further development of the skills of sorting, classifying, comparing and contrasting.
    • Educator observes and documents students’ initial interactions with the materials. This documentation should include questions raised by the students to determine the direction for future learning.
Sorting fasteners
Sorting fasteners (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
Sorting fasteners
Sorting fasteners (© 2019 Let’s Talk Science).

 

Assessment

Using anecdotal comments, photos and/or video recordings, observe and document students’ ability to:

  • Sort - students sort objects into piles on the basis of a common attribute (e.g., red buttons; fasteners with pointy ends, fasteners made of metal, etc.)
  • Classify - students classify objects according to self-determined and given criteria (e.g., “I sorted all the red buttons because red is my favourite colour.”; “Find all of the fasteners that might be used to hold papers together.”)
  • Classify - students classify objects according to multiple attributes (e.g., red buttons, red buttons with 2 holes or 4 holes, red buttons that are big, red buttons that are small, fasteners with pointy ends, fasteners with pointy ends that are used in the workshop, fasteners that are used in the workshop that are made out of metal)
  • Classify - students find different ways to classify the same objects (e.g., red buttons with sparkles vs. red buttons that are plain; clothing fasteners that are made of metal vs. clothing fasteners that are made of plastic or cloth)
  • Compare & Contrast - students compare and contrast fasteners and their uses (e.g., “These fasteners are all the same because they are made out of metal. These fasteners are different because they are all made out of plastic. But they are all the same because they are all used to join our clothes together.”)
  • Communicate - students describe the rule (criteria) they used to classify the fasteners. (e.g., “I sorted by colour - these buttons are all red.” “These fasteners are all ones that are made of metal and that are used in a workshop.”)
Sorting fasteners by a common attribute
Sorting fasteners by a common attribute (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
Sorting fasteners by self-determined criteria
Sorting fasteners by self-determined criteria (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
Sorting the same fasteners in different ways
Sorting the same fasteners in different ways (© 2019 Let’s Talk Science).

 

Assessment

Using anecdotal comments, photos and/or video recordings, observe and document students’ ability to:

  • Sort - students sort objects into piles on the basis of a common attribute (e.g., red buttons; fasteners with pointy ends, fasteners made of metal, etc.)
  • Classify - students classify objects according to self-determined and given criteria (e.g., “I sorted all the red buttons because red is my favourite colour.”; “Find all of the fasteners that might be used to hold papers together.”)
  • Classify - students classify objects according to multiple attributes (e.g., red buttons, red buttons with 2 holes or 4 holes, red buttons that are big, red buttons that are small, fasteners with pointy ends, fasteners with pointy ends that are used in the workshop, fasteners that are used in the workshop that are made out of metal)
  • Classify - students find different ways to classify the same objects (e.g., red buttons with sparkles vs. red buttons that are plain; clothing fasteners that are made of metal vs. clothing fasteners that are made of plastic or cloth)
  • Compare & Contrast - students compare and contrast fasteners and their uses (e.g., “These fasteners are all the same because they are made out of metal. These fasteners are different because they are all made out of plastic. But they are all the same because they are all used to join our clothes together.”)
  • Communicate - students describe the rule (criteria) they used to classify the fasteners. (e.g., “I sorted by colour - these buttons are all red.” “These fasteners are all ones that are made of metal and that are used in a workshop.”)
Sorting fasteners by a common attribute
Sorting fasteners by a common attribute (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
Sorting fasteners by self-determined criteria
Sorting fasteners by self-determined criteria (© 2019 Let's Talk Science).
Sorting the same fasteners in different ways
Sorting the same fasteners in different ways (© 2019 Let’s Talk Science).

 

Co-constructed Learning
Students:
Saying, Doing, Representing
Educator:
Interactions: Responding, Challenging
Students sort fasteners.
  • “Tell me how you sorted all of these fasteners.”
  • “I notice that you picked out a lot of buttons from the basket. Why did you choose the buttons? What are some things you notice about the buttons? Which buttons are the same? In what ways are they the same? How are they different?”
  • “I notice that your sort doesn’t have any round things in it. Why is that?”
  • “Could I add this hair clip to your sort? Why or why not?”
Students sort and classify objects according to self-determined and given criteria.
  • “What was your sorting rule (criteria) for putting all of these fasteners in one pile?”
  • “Find all of the fasteners that we might use in our classroom.”
Students compare and contrast fasteners and their uses.
  • “You said that buttons keep our clothes done up or held together. What else can you find in the basket that can hold things together? What do you notice is the same about all of these things? What is different?” 
  • “What is the same about all of these fasteners? (e.g., all used on shoes) What is different about them? (e.g., the material they are made of, their shape)
  • “Find all of the fasteners that are made of metal (plastic, etc.). Besides what they are made of, what else is the same about them? What is different?”
Students communicate the rules (criteria) by which they sort and classify fasteners and how they are used.
  • “What words could you use to describe the fasteners you have sorted here?”
  • “How can we classify the words we have used to describe fasteners?” (e.g., how they are used, what they are made of, what they look like, etc.)
  • “Sometimes we use fasteners for other purposes. How do we hold the drapes on our classroom window together? (e.g., a hair clasp) What other things in the basket could be used in different ways?”

 

Co-constructed Learning
Students:
Saying, Doing, Representing
Educator:
Interactions: Responding, Challenging
Students sort fasteners.
  • “Tell me how you sorted all of these fasteners.”
  • “I notice that you picked out a lot of buttons from the basket. Why did you choose the buttons? What are some things you notice about the buttons? Which buttons are the same? In what ways are they the same? How are they different?”
  • “I notice that your sort doesn’t have any round things in it. Why is that?”
  • “Could I add this hair clip to your sort? Why or why not?”
Students sort and classify objects according to self-determined and given criteria.
  • “What was your sorting rule (criteria) for putting all of these fasteners in one pile?”
  • “Find all of the fasteners that we might use in our classroom.”
Students compare and contrast fasteners and their uses.
  • “You said that buttons keep our clothes done up or held together. What else can you find in the basket that can hold things together? What do you notice is the same about all of these things? What is different?” 
  • “What is the same about all of these fasteners? (e.g., all used on shoes) What is different about them? (e.g., the material they are made of, their shape)
  • “Find all of the fasteners that are made of metal (plastic, etc.). Besides what they are made of, what else is the same about them? What is different?”
Students communicate the rules (criteria) by which they sort and classify fasteners and how they are used.
  • “What words could you use to describe the fasteners you have sorted here?”
  • “How can we classify the words we have used to describe fasteners?” (e.g., how they are used, what they are made of, what they look like, etc.)
  • “Sometimes we use fasteners for other purposes. How do we hold the drapes on our classroom window together? (e.g., a hair clasp) What other things in the basket could be used in different ways?”

 

Cross-curricular Connections

Literacy

  • communicate orally in a clear, coherent manner (e.g., explain criteria for sorting, describe how fasteners are used)

Mathematical Thinking

  • sort and classify by attributes (e.g., how fasteners are used, what fasteners are made from, etc.)
  • organize objects into categories by sorting and classifying objects using one or multiple attributes (e.g., organize fasteners by type, by where they are commonly used and the material from which it is made)
  • collect and organize primary data and display the data (e.g., collect and organize data about which fastener is used more on shoes in the classroom, laces or VelcroTM)
Cross-curricular Connections

Literacy

  • communicate orally in a clear, coherent manner (e.g., explain criteria for sorting, describe how fasteners are used)

Mathematical Thinking

  • sort and classify by attributes (e.g., how fasteners are used, what fasteners are made from, etc.)
  • organize objects into categories by sorting and classifying objects using one or multiple attributes (e.g., organize fasteners by type, by where they are commonly used and the material from which it is made)
  • collect and organize primary data and display the data (e.g., collect and organize data about which fastener is used more on shoes in the classroom, laces or VelcroTM)
Extending the Learning

If your students are interested in learning more, the following may provoke their curiosity:

  • At some point, children will likely have noticed the fasteners on their own clothes/shoes and the clothes/shoes and of others. Post the question: “Which is more common: Laces or Velcro™?” and show interested children how to do a survey of the other children in the class, using a T chart as one way to document their findings.
T-chart of shoe fasteners
Vecro™ and laces T-chart (Sources: Velcro shoes FotoRieth via Pixabay and annca via Pixabay).
  • Share your fasteners inquiry with families. Ask them to do an at-home hunt to see what kinds of fasteners they can find in different parts of the home, who uses them and why they are used. This could include looking for examples of fasteners being used in ways other than their intended purpose (e.g., opening up a paper clip provides a hook for hanging light objects).
  • At school, have children share their at-home findings, comparing and contrasting what was discovered (e.g., What fasteners are found in only one place? What fasteners are found in many places? What fasteners are hidden [like those that keep fridge and cupboard doors closed] and why?).
Plastic twist ties
Plastic twist ties (Source: Evan-Amos [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).
  • Before the fasteners in our basket were designed and created, how did people put clothing and other things together?
Extending the Learning

If your students are interested in learning more, the following may provoke their curiosity:

  • At some point, children will likely have noticed the fasteners on their own clothes/shoes and the clothes/shoes and of others. Post the question: “Which is more common: Laces or Velcro™?” and show interested children how to do a survey of the other children in the class, using a T chart as one way to document their findings.
T-chart of shoe fasteners
Vecro™ and laces T-chart (Sources: Velcro shoes FotoRieth via Pixabay and annca via Pixabay).
  • Share your fasteners inquiry with families. Ask them to do an at-home hunt to see what kinds of fasteners they can find in different parts of the home, who uses them and why they are used. This could include looking for examples of fasteners being used in ways other than their intended purpose (e.g., opening up a paper clip provides a hook for hanging light objects).
  • At school, have children share their at-home findings, comparing and contrasting what was discovered (e.g., What fasteners are found in only one place? What fasteners are found in many places? What fasteners are hidden [like those that keep fridge and cupboard doors closed] and why?).
Plastic twist ties
Plastic twist ties (Source: Evan-Amos [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).
  • Before the fasteners in our basket were designed and created, how did people put clothing and other things together?
Supporting Media
Cover of Snap, Button, Zip: Inventions to Keep Your Clothes On by Vicki Cobb
Cover of Snap, Button, Zip: Inventions to Keep Your Clothes On (Source: OpenLibrary).

Snap, Button, Zip: Inventions to Keep Your Clothes on
by Vicki Cobb
Presents simple historical background on the things that fasten our clothes, such as elastic, zippers, buttons, and sticky tapes.
ISBN:  9780064461061

 

Supporting Media
Cover of Snap, Button, Zip: Inventions to Keep Your Clothes On by Vicki Cobb
Cover of Snap, Button, Zip: Inventions to Keep Your Clothes On (Source: OpenLibrary).

Snap, Button, Zip: Inventions to Keep Your Clothes on
by Vicki Cobb
Presents simple historical background on the things that fasten our clothes, such as elastic, zippers, buttons, and sticky tapes.
ISBN:  9780064461061

 

Learn More

 Fasteners (20 March 2007) How Stuff Works -- Short article outlining different kids of fasteners. 

The Evolution of the Screw and Screwdriver (2019) ThoughtCo. -- A brief history of the screw and screwdriver.

"Uncovering Clever" Feature: Who Invented VELCRO Brand Fasteners? (2017) VELCRO® Brand -- Short video (0:59) discussing how VELCRO® was invented  and used.  

The Zipper: Where did it come from? | Stuff of Genius (2015) How Stuff Works -- Video (1:33) about how the invention of the zipper.

Learn More

 Fasteners (20 March 2007) How Stuff Works -- Short article outlining different kids of fasteners. 

The Evolution of the Screw and Screwdriver (2019) ThoughtCo. -- A brief history of the screw and screwdriver.

"Uncovering Clever" Feature: Who Invented VELCRO Brand Fasteners? (2017) VELCRO® Brand -- Short video (0:59) discussing how VELCRO® was invented  and used.  

The Zipper: Where did it come from? | Stuff of Genius (2015) How Stuff Works -- Video (1:33) about how the invention of the zipper.