The Total Package
By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, August 23, 2006
- Middle School
- Product Design
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- identify packaging problems of a product
- design a prototype for an improved product package
- compose a written report that contains recommendations for their new design
- "Let's Make a Change" handout
- A variety of everyday objects that use excessive or non-environmentally friendly packaging--product suggestions are listed in the activity.
Packaging ProblemsThe purpose of this activity is to provide an opportunity for students to examine how products are packaged, as well as the costs surrounding packaging and the impact that packaging has on the environment. 1. Share and discuss the following quotation with your students: Did you know that up to one out of every $10 you spend at the store pays for packaging? When all packaging is accounted for, it adds up to about one-third of all the trash that's thrown away in the United States. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/housing/pubs/fcs421.html 2. Explain to students that not all packaging is wasteful or undesirable. Brainstorm a list of the reasons why manufacturers use packaging for their products. Reasons might include the following: protects products from damage during shipping, protects products from contamination and spoilage, contains necessary information regarding the product, provides tamper-proof and child resistant safeguards. 3. Share with your class an example of an item that uses excess packaging and an item that uses "smarter" packaging. Involve the students in a discussion about how the items were packaged.
Steps for Learning Let's Make Some ChangesThe purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to use the steps of the design process to solve a product-packaging problem. 1. Divide the class into small groups. Give each group a copy of the "Let's Make A Change" handout and an item that contains excess packaging. Teacher Note: Suggestions for products that use excess and/or non-environmentally friendly materials include individually wrapped containers of applesauce with foil lids, an Oscar Meyer Lunchable, a Campbell's Quick Lunch Microwaveable, McDonald's Happy Meal, Dentyne Ice Gum, and M&M Minis. 2. Ask students to imagine that the companies that produce their assigned product have asked them to design a new, less-wasteful and more environmentally friendly package for the item. Explain to students that they are going to analyze the item and make recommendations for how the package design could be improved to use less, and/or more environmentally friendly materials. Teacher Note: The written report mentioned in step five below may be completed as a homework assignment. You may also choose to have the groups prepare a PowerPoint type presentation and present their design to the "company" officials.
Create a class rubric with your students that will help them understand the effectiveness of their design process. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric.-How effective was your brainstorming in generating ideas? Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate how effectively you analyzed the information you used to identify your problem. Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate the effectiveness of your solution. Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate how clearly you communicated the problem you wanted to solve. Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate how clearly you communicated your solution. Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate your effectiveness as problem solvers. Excellent Good Adequate Poor