Welcome to Common Core Texts, a project by Michael DeJoseph. Here you'll find high-quality reading passages for grades 3 to 12 in ELA, Social Studies, History, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and many other topics.

Trash Patrol
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

In the summer months, my younger sister and I used to spend our mornings scavenging for electronics equipment. We would patrol the neighborhood on our bicycles, looking for items left by the side of the road for the trash man to pick up. Lamps, alarm clocks, radios, stereos, televisions: all went into the basket on the back of my bike.

At the end of our search, we would drag our haul into the garage. That was where the surgery took place. We each had our preferred surgical tools. My sister liked to use a hammer when possible, smashing plastic casings to reveal the fascinating innards with their microchips, wires, and batteries. I, on the other hand, preferred a gentler approach. I used a screwdriver to carefully remove each screw, slowly revealing the secrets within.

To be clear, our goal was never to fix these items. For reasons of safety, my parents had set the strict rule that we were never to plug in any of our items. I’m afraid that once our patients entered the garage, they would never come back to life. Our goal was simply to take them apart. We wanted to discover the magic hidden inside.

After the surgery was complete, we would sort through the pile of broken equipment laid out on the garage floor. We would select the most interesting bits and attach them to a wooden pegboard. By the end of the summer, the pegboard would begin to take on the appearance of a strange and complex machine. Switches attached to processors attached to dead batteries attached to broken display panels in a bizarre web of wires.

Our summer pastime never led to an engineering career, I’m afraid. My sister is an English teacher and I manage a Mexican restaurant. Still, they remain among the happiest memories of my childhood.


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