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Design A New Product

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Activity Source: Society of Manufacturing Engineers
Age Level: Grades 6-8

Have you ever wondered why or how new products come about? Sometimes it's because people such as engineers, scientists, salespeople or inventors identify a need or problem that is turned into a product you can buy. These problems are often solved by developing new products. Once a new product idea is developed, manufacturers step in to make the product.

When developing new products, engineers take the following steps.

Identify the problem or need.
First identify a need or want for a product.
Look at ways to change or update present products.
Can you make them better?
Is there a need that current products do not fulfill?

Define the problem or need.
Clearly describe the product, both positive and negative aspects.
What will it do? How will your life be better or easier with the product?

Develop solutions.
Think of several solutions for the problem or need.

Create sketches.
Draw a picture or a diagram of the product.

Evaluate and refine the best solutions.
Review the sketches and select the best one.

Communicate the best solution.
Show the sketches to your friends or parents for their input.
In manufacturing, this is usually done in front of a panel of experts.

Test the solution.
Build samples of the solution. In manufacturing, the products are then tested with the general public.

Activity
Start by identifying a need, by reviewing current products. Today, Pogs are popular. The problem is, how do children store them, carry them around or display them? Let's develop a product to fill this need.

A preliminary solution is to create a type of carrying case or "plastics" similar to those used with baseball cards. Try to think of additional ideas.

Sketch a solution of each idea. For example: pogs plastics, Pogs carrying case.

Evaluate which solution has the best potential. Explain why. Discuss ideas with others—your parents, school teacher, etc.

Now, look around you, what other problems or needs do you see? Can you think of a product that might be helpful? Design a solution for those too.