It Takes All Sorts


Think about the clothes in your closet. How many different ways could you sort them out? You could go by the type of clothing it is (sweater, jacket, pants, and so on). Or by color. Or by what season it's good for. Or by how new or old it is. That's a lot like what scientists do when they classify plants and animals. In this Fab Lab, you'll sharpen your sorting skills by inventing your own classification system!


What You'll Need:

A whole bunch of fasteners, including buttons, screws, paper clips, rubber bands, and other stuff like that.

Round A

Spread all of the fasteners out on the table.
Look closely at them. How are some of them like each other? How are they different?
Think about what the fasteners are used for. Are they used on clothes? On paper? On wood? Are they used at home? In an office?
Now sort the fasteners into two or three main categories based on how they're used. (It doesn't matter what they look like). Decide among your team members what those categories are going to be.
Make up names for the categories and write them down. List the numbers of fasteners in each group.
Within each group, create smaller categories. Write down the names of these sub-groups and how many fasteners belong in each of them.

Round B

Mix the fasteners back up. This time, make two or three big groups based on what they look like: their size, their shape, their color, what they're made of, and so on. Write down the names of your new categories, and the number of objects in each one.
Come up with smaller groups within each category like you did in Round A.


What was different about the two rounds? How did that change the way you looked at the fasteners? Can you think of another way to separate the fasteners into big categories, besides their appearance or how they're used?

Now think about the category "animals." How many different ways could you begin to separate that into smaller categories?