Interchangeable Parts Lesson Plan

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Use this lesson plan to teach your students about the importance and use of interchangeable parts. Start by watching an informative video lesson and discussing the important concepts. Follow this teaching by having students participate in several hands-on activities to cement the concepts.

Learning Objectives

Once your students have completed all of this lesson plan's activities and extensions, they should be able to:

  • Define interchangeable parts
  • Understand Eli Whitney's role with respect to interchangeable parts
  • Identify and use simple interchangeable parts


30 - 60 minutes without the activity


  • Clay or Play-Doh
  • Legos
  • Toothpicks and/or tongue depressors
  • Glue
  • A clock or other object that can be easily taken apart alongside its numerous interchangeable parts.
  • Safety goggles

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.


Warm Up

  • Start the class with a couple questions:
    • Can you name a famous American inventor?
    • Have you ever heard of a cotton gin?


As you play the video, pause after each major section for a short discussion to ensure your students are all on the same page.

  • Pause after 0:51.
    • Who was Eli Whitney?
    • Where was he born?
    • What college did Whitney attend?
    • What is a cotton gin?
  • Pause after 1:46.
    • What are interchangeable parts?
    • How are such parts produced?
    • What are the advantages of interchangeable parts?
  • Pause after 2:42.
    • Describe some other people and inventions tied to the concept of interchangeable parts.
  • Pause after 3:23.
    • What was the purpose of the Eli Whitney Armory?
    • What did the armory produce and for what reason?
  • Watch the lesson summary
  • Now have each student take the lesson quiz as an in-class activity.
  • Review all questions and answers with the class

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