Materials World Modules

An Inquiry & Design-Based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Program

Materials & the Environment - Environmentally-sound potato chip packaging

Materials & the Environment
Environmentally-sound potato chip packaging
Lincolnton High School, Lincolnton, NC

At Lincolnton High School (Lincolnton, NC), students in Ms. Kathy Bosiak's Environmental Science classes field-tested the Materials & the Environment Module. In preparation of their goal of designing a more environmentally-sound potato chip packaging, they investigated and assessed the effects of different materials, such as paper, plastics, steel, aluminum, and glass, on the human environment. Here are some snapshots of their experience:

What types of food packaging produce the least amount of waste?

With cereal, juice, popcorn, and other snacks strewn across their tables, students measure separately the mass of a variety of food products and the mass of the commercial packaging materials that hold them. They then compare the two. Using this kind of data, students can start to analyze and evaluate the impact of food packaging materials on the environment.

Designing better chip packaging

Students design biodegradable potato chip packaging prototypes for their design challenge. The package must protect the potato chips from physical damage and meet other criteria related to biodegradation, size, weight, and cost of materials. Students discuss in groups to decide how best to proceed with their design.

Students get creative in their marketing strategies for their "designer chip packaging" prototypes.

Some student groups pose with their creations.

Design Projects

Student Response

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