At work I participate in the GEMS program, which is a mentoring program that encourages females to become interested in the sciences, math, and technology by providing monthly activities and mentor visits in an all female environment. This past Wednesday, we had a Take Apart activity. My mentoring partner had brought in an old stereo with a 3-tray CD drive and 2 cassette player. It was really interesting to see how many large circuit boards were within the system. Another interesting aspect was how audio technology has changed over the years. From vinyls to A-tracks, to cassettes and now CDs, the technology likes to waver back and forth. The cassette definitely had a more mechanical system, with a belt and gears, whereas the CD had gears but had considerable more circuitry. Towards the end of the activity we ended up taking apart a single CD drive for a computer and it was really easy to see the similarities it holds with the vinyl players. The laser’s path over the CD is very similar to the needle on a record player.

My group was fairly destructive so we got through a lot of technology. Another item taken apart was a telephone. It was interesting to see how simple the receiver was. Finding a magnet within it was also unexpected. Being curious about where that came about, Howstuffworks has a nice article on it:

The LCD monitor was interesting as well, though we didn’t take that apart to the bottom layer due to apprehension about breaking open the monitor. Probably a good choice in the end. I was curious after how it worked though, and there’s a good video and description of it, also on Howstuffworks:

The cell phone had more layers than many of the other items we used. It was interesting to see it fan out.

The input devices such as the cell phone and keyboards were interesting in the fact that were entirely based off of contacts and that’s about it.

It really is amazing to see the levels of technology of the items, from the older to the newer and where things have gone.