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Packaging and Other Structures

Packaging & Other Structures

Exploring how bags, boxes and bottles work to contain, protect and dispense products; product testing of packaging; packages as examples of structures; design of useful classroom structures

This book provides an engaging introduction to the packaging materials that are everywhere, and uses these materials as examples of structures. Nearly every product that we buy in a store, or order on-line, comes in some kind of package. Most often, we discard these containers, thinking they have no value once the product arrives.

The book begins with illustrations of commonly found packaging, ranging from cardboard boxes to plastic bottles, cushioning material, bags and envelopes. The chapter concludes with some “Packaging Mysteries”: What was inside this box? What will this package look like when it is folded flat? Why do aluminum soda cans have a dome on the bottom and a neck near the top?

Chapter 2 develops basic concepts of structures, using examples from nature, furniture, fastening technologies as well as bags and boxes. It also provides some insight into design problems with particular kinds of packages, such as making a medicine bottle child proof, how handles are formed in or attached to shopping bags and making it easy to dispense thick liquids such as lotion or hand soap.

Chapter 3, “Activities”, provides classroom-tested lesson plans and worksheets for classifying, exploring and designing structures. These activities range from early childhood experiences with matching products with packages to upper-elementary-grade design of useful classroom structures, such as shelves.

Chapter 4, “Stories”, provides accounts by teachers of how they came up with these activities and how they played out in their classrooms. Beginning in pre-K, it includes photos of children engaged in the activities, samples of student work and transcripts of their discussions.

The last two chapters provide a broader context for engaging with packaging and other structures in the elementary classroom. “Resources” provides references and capsule reviews of children’s literature related to structures. It also provides a brief introduction to assessment methods.

The final chapter provides an overview of education standards, and alignments with the standards that were in effect in 2002, including the NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language, AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy, NRC National Science Education Standards, and NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. While these particular standards documents have all been superseded, most of the discussion of standards is still relevant.