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Broken phone!

A couple of weeks ago, Paula was cleaning off her phone.  Arthur had been playing with it after eating, and it was extremely sticky.  In order to clean the phone, she pulled it out its case and wiped it off. Afterwards, the phone now glistening because of the wonderful job she had done. She then grabbed her case to put her phone back in, and … the phone slipped right through her fingers.

I reached out in order to attempt to grab it, but instead I just watched as gravity pulled the phone to the ground. Crash. It hit hard on our tiled bathroom floor and lay face down. I grimaced as I picked the phone up, just hoping that it was alright. Turning the phone over, I saw that the entire screen was shattered with a web-like pattern flowing from where the phone had impacted the ground.

Terror overcame me as I looked at the phone. It wasn’t that it was broken, or that it would cost money to get fixed, it was the knowledge that I would be the one that would have to figure out what to do about it.

Lessons to be learned

I wasn’t happy Paula’s phone broke, but this is exactly the type of story that can be incorporated into a great lesson plan.  Today, students of all ages are connected to phones or tablets in a very real way.  Many have also likely broken their own device at some point. Therefore, as they hear about a phone breaking, they vividly imagine that they are the one holding the phone and that it’s their phone that is breaking.  This story appeals to them emotionally, and they are ready to listen to what you have to say next.

At this point, it you would be your chance to transition into a topic of your choosing.  Whatever that happens to be, if you can connect the lesson of the day to the story, you students will give extra importance to what you talk about.  Note that, there are many lessons you can work this story into.  A few of the topics that came to my mind are:

  • Why you should clean a phone at all,
    • Transference of bacteria,
    •  General hygiene,
  • Friction and the how the coefficient will change if a surface gets wet,
  • Free fall motion due to gravity,
  • Forces of impact,
  • Entropy and tendency toward chaos,
  • Properties of lithium, or batteries, in case of puncture,
  • Why you would want to do things other than play on the phone.

This is in no way a comprehensive list.  Instead, I hope that as you read it, you thought of a topic that will be coming up for you that could work well with such a story.  Regardless of what you teach, you can find some way to connect a breaking phone to it.


While no one wants to have something they own, especially something they use on a regular basis, break, you can use these situations in a positive way. Getting your student’s attention is often the most difficult part of planning a lecture.  This is one example of a life story that could be used to gain their attention, but if you look at your own life, you will find that you can incorporate many of your personal experiences into the classroom.

I didn’t mention this in the list above, but the application of this story that immediately came to my mind was doing a cost benefit analysis. This in particular came to mind, because I knew I would soon be doing one. Next time, I will look at the different options I considered and the corresponding costs and benefits of each.   We will then look at what I chose to do.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the story and thought of ways to help you incorporate similar stories into your own lesson plans. If you liked the story, click the like button below or share on Social Media. Also, be sure to follow us so that you will be notified when the follow up post on what I did with the phone is published.

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