Product Design

Katie Powers

Unit Title:
Product Design



8 Days (48 Minutes)

Unit Lessons:
Lesson 1: Project Intro
Lesson 2: Nets & Product Design
Lesson 3: Word of the Day
Lesson 4: Presentation

Background Knowledge:
Prior to beginning this unit, students should be familiar with the terminology used to identify particular 3D solids. Students are expected to have a general understanding for nets and their use. Finally, for their presentations, students will make use of Power Point or some other visual aid. Their prior knowledge of Power Point usage will be useful.

Additional Resources:
Warm-Ups and Wrap-Ups Power Point.

July 2013

The Big Idea (including global relevance)

Improving the products we use daily.

Essential Question
  1. What influence does a customer have on product designs?

While students may not become the engineers that design the products (though this would be the ultimate response - remind students that engineer teams desire diversity, that they might have inside knowledge on different viewpoints throughout the design process, potentially expanding their appeal to a greater customer base), they will come to understand that they have valuable insight into product design.

The Challenge

Design a new product that has not been thought of before, or redesign a product such that it improves the function/design of the product.


  1. The prototype for the product must use no more that 9 cubic inches of material.
  2. Final product: One 2D Net and one 3D model/prototype of the product.
  3. Precise communication, emphasize at least 2 terms from the given Geometry terms in final presentation.
The Hook

“Headphones across the ages” Powerpoint

Or Headphone collection - Have all students place a sticker dot on their headphones with their initials and then place on the table (hand students stickers as they walk in the classroom).

Discuss the various designs, companies, functions, and ergonomics. 

Guiding Questions
  1. How do you make a 3D figure in 2D?
  2. How do you communicate with precision?
  3. How do you find the area of irregular shapes?
  4. How do you find the volume of the prototype?
ACS (Real world applications; career connections; societal impact)

Applications:  Students are improving products that they use on a daily basis, or inventing products that they wish they could have access to.

Career Connections:  3D printing is exploding within all sorts of careers.  Currently, engineers are the most likely to produce the computer-generated images that can be printed in 3D.  However, medicine, music, athletics, the automobile industry, any field that uses a 3D product in any way will be integrating this technology into their workplace..

Social Impact:  By improving products, students will see the impact that engineering has on society.  In addition, students will get a real glimpse into the Engineering field.  Students may become inspired to pursue engineering.  The impact that Winton Woods students could have on their community from obtaining jobs in this field is incredible!


Being able to deconstruct a solid  is not familiar to most students at this age.  The ability to break down the solid into its basic shapes and sketch them on paper is a hands on activity that will provide very specific instruction to this deficiency. 

Students are also quick to assign the use of flash cards to their elementary school years.  Reconstructing their perspective, using the YouTube video and activity should be helpful in encouraging them to make use of this extremely effective study tool.

Engineering Design Process (EDP)

Students will work through all stages of the engineering design process as they construct their 3D Prototypes.

The steps of the Engineering Design Process as related to this unit:

  1. Identify and Define: Students will identify problems with products that are very close to their hearts - cell phones.  Through the discussion tied to the “Project Overview” Power Point, students will develop the broad challenge.
  2. Gather Information:  Students will do research on products they are considering redesigning, using the Research Handout.
  3. Identify Alternatives:  Each member in the group will come up with a sketch of the product they would like to design/redesign.
  4. Select Best Solution to Try:  Group members will use a rating system to determine which sketch they would like to produce.
  5. Implement Solution:  Students will design their product in 3D, using given materials. 
  6. Evaluate or Test:  Students will test the durability of their product prior to presentations, using some method and specific criteria developed by the team.
  7. Refine:  Students must make at least one improvement on their product prior to presentation.
  8. Communicate:  Students will present their products to the class and guests.  Audience members will provide feedback for the students, including what they would do to improve their product and whether they would purchase the product or not.  The product will also need to hold up to being passed around the class.  This audience participation represents another iteration of the EDP.
  9. Following the presentations, the group that designed the “best” product, as rated by the audience, will have the opportunity for their product to be printed in 3D.  College students in engineering classes will perform yet another iteration, as they work with 3D software to construct the prototype given by my students.
Unit Academic Standards

CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
CCSS.Math.Practice.MP4 Model with mathematics.
CCSS.Math.Practice.MP6 Attend to precision.
CCSS.Math.Practice.MP7 Look for and make use of structure.
CCSS.Math.Content.HSG-MG.A.1 Use geometric shapes, their measures, and their properties to describe objects (e.g., modeling a tree trunk or a human torso as a cylinder).
CCSS.Math.Content.HSG-MG.A.3 Apply geometric methods to solve design problems (e.g., designing an object or structure to satisfy physical constraints or minimize cost; working with typographic grid systems based on ratios).


Pre-Unit Assessment

How to Make This a Hierarchical Unit

This unit could be adapted for the Middle School level. Students in grades 6-8 deal with basic definitions of shapes and begin the discussion of nets. The vocabulary objective could easily be modified to accommodate any vocabulary addressed in a math classroom at any grade level.