Lesson Plan

The Bicycle as a System: Introducing critical parts

In this lesson students practice analysis of a system. Using a bicycle, students analyze the parts of a system and how they contribute to the purpose fo the system. The leson concludes with prediction of the effects of system disruptions.
Todd B.
Classroom teacher
Lancaster Mennonite School
Lancaster, PA
Show More
My Grades 7, 8
My Subjects Math, Science
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

  • assess how the parts of a system contribute to the purpose of a system.
  • predict the results when a critical sub-system is disrupted.
English Language Arts
forming arguments
Grades 7 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Identifying parts of a system

Activity: Investigating

Students are shown a bicycle. Ideally this is a real bicycle, but a projected picture will work. Ask students to view the bicycle as a system, not just a bicycle.

Ask students to write down the parts of the bicycle. This is the point at which you will need to help students think of the bike as a system.

Student Instructions
  1. View the bicycle as a system. What is the purpose of the bike?
  2. What makes the system work? List the parts of the bicycle system.

2 Critical roles in a system

Students have already benefited from a survey of a bicycle as a system. Now take them deeper into an analysis of the parts (or roles) in the system.

Guide students to understand that critical parts of a system are those required for the system to perform its purpose.

Student Instructions

Access MindMup at www.mindmup.com.

Select new MindMup to publish to your Google Drive.

Create a mind map for the bicycle as a system.

  1. Place Bicycle at the center.
  2. Surround bicycle with the parts of the bike that you have listed.
  3. Now arrange them by dragging non-critical parts to the right, and critical parts to the right.

3 Disruptions to a system

In this activity students defend their concept of critical parts to other students in a pair and share environment.

Have students pair and show their mindmap to one other student, comparing and contrasting with their own diagram.

The Backwards Bike video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0) shows a bike that has the steering reversed. Students may not have identified the direction of steering as a critical system.

Student Instructions
  1. Pair up to share your mind map with one other student.
  2. Find and write one difference and one similarity between your diagrams.
  3. Now watch the Backwards Bike video.
  4. Based on the video, how should critical parts of a bike be identified?

4 Present your findings...

Free, Paid

The final evidence that students understand:

  • how parts of a system support the purpose of the system, and
  • how disruptions to the system affect the system.
Student Instructions
  1. On the class padlet provide a description of the following two concepts.
    1. Parts of a system:
    2. Disruption to a system:
  2. Follow up by posting one question you have for further learning. What are you curious about after today's lesson?