A Science Odyssey Title Technology Activity Title

Quality, Quantity, and Other Questions

Overview: Plan and test a mass-production strategy
Learning Goal: Understand characteristics of mass production and hand-crafting
Video Link: The Automobile

Show the video segment on auto manufacturing. Ask students to identify Ford's production goals, and determine how he tried to achieve them.

Print out and give students copies of the Relevent Appendix: origami pattern*. Let individuals make their own frogs. Note how long it takes them to finish. Next, form teams of five to six students. Tell them that suddenly the demand for these frogs is so enormous that you can't fill orders fast enough. Each team is an engineering unit in your frog factory and needs to devise a way to make frogs as fast as possible with the workers and materials available.

Give teams about 10 minutes to plan a production strategy for a 15-minute test run. When they're ready, give each team fresh paper and start the clock. After 15 minutes, stop production and discuss the outcomes. How many frogs did each team produce? What strategies did teams use, and which ones led to higher production rates? What affected product quality? How did workers feel about their role, compared to when they made their own frogs? What could be changed to improve product quality, production speed and cost, or worker satisfaction? What do students know about current industry strategies -- such as the use of robotics, off-shore labor, or small-team production -- that address these challenges? Ask students how their production strategies might apply to other industries. (With that in mind, you may want to show the segment on penicillin production from "Matters of Life and Death.")

* You may substitute almost any product that requires multiple steps to produce.

Relevent Appendix
Technology Program Contents

Activities subtitle

Evolution or Revolution?
Testing the Virtue in Virtual
In-Depth Investigation: Super Polymers!

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