From Cradle to Grave: Product Lifecycles
Mar 20 2011
TeachEngineeringDigitalLibrary's picture
Source: TeachEngineering Digital Library
Summary Information


life cycles, product, assessment, inventory, environmental impact, manufacture, materials, reengineering
Earth Science
Computer Science

Target Grade (Ages):

Grade 7 (Ages 12-13)

Estimated Time Required:

less than 1 hour

Diversity Indicators:

This activity engages different types of learners. It may be difficult for students with limited fine motor skills to manipulate a screwdriver, etc. to disassemble products so be sure to group students with limited motor skills with students who can use a screwdriver.

Watch this Lesson in Practice


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Average: 4.2 (5 votes)


alonso.garcia's picture

April 27, 2011 - 8:14pm

Very good lesson, and

Very good lesson, and comparison to the cycle of life. Only obstacle I can see with this lesson is finding products that can be disassembled easily, especially for large class sizes (30 plus students per period). Regardless, it is a very neat lesson.
greeneggsnham's picture

April 27, 2011 - 8:14pm

This is a really cool lesson!

This is a really cool lesson!
pbell's picture

April 27, 2011 - 8:14pm

I enjoyed the lesson plans -

I enjoyed the lesson plans - the worksheet introducing a weighting system was VERY good although it is arbitrary?! Prioritising different aspects of the manufacture, use and destruction of each item was interesting. As my Texan colleague mentioned, finding enough items to test to destruction could be a challenge. Five minutes to take apart and infinitum to put back together again! For my age group I would need quite simple mechanisms. I also liked the metamorphosis in lifecycles - a complete change for the butterfly and the product in many cases, put them together and they take on a new life. Thank you.
aprilluv4's picture

April 27, 2011 - 8:14pm

The asking good questions

The asking good questions video gave advice that many teachers have heard before. What could help the video would be more clips of good questions AND bad questions. It would be interesting to see student responses to both good and bad so me as a teacher can visualize the difference a simple word choice change can make.
zkorth's picture

July 13, 2011 - 6:24pm

Great Lesson

It'd be awesome to post some actual footage of this lesson being done. Any takers? I'd like to see pros/cons and good/bad and what you reflected on as you finished the lesson.
Kelishs's picture

November 14, 2012 - 11:34pm

This is a unique, rich,

This is a unique, rich, constructive lesson. I really like the intent of the lesson comparing the life cycle of animals and product. I modified the lesson but kept the integrity of the lesson. As an activator I use a short clip from "How Things are Made" and another clip from Journey North on the life cycle of a butterfly. My second grade students and I discussed and recorded what we know about butterflies. I asked the students if they agreed with a posted statement if goods (products) also have life cycles? Most of the students stated no, which was what I expected. I did not address or implement the worksheet but as I stated before the integrity of the lesson stayed in the forefront of my objectives. Moreover, I added several book resources that provided discussion points, background knowledge, and comparison sources of life cycles. The books may be too elementary for seventh graders, but sometimes simple is better. Anyway, I used several books from a series called Start to Finish by Shannon Zemlicka, "From Rock to Road," "From Wheat to Bread," "From Sea to Salt," "From Milk to Ice Cream," From Tree to Paper," "From Sheep to Sweater," and four books from a series titled "Materials, Materials, Materials Wool" and "Materials, Materials, Materials Glass" by Chris Oxlade. I intend to implement the lesson again with modifications. I want to spend more time on the construction of products. However, at the end of the session, which in the future I plan to expand to several days, my second graders wrote the close "I used to think but now I know" and stated that yes, products have life cycles. In fact, since the lesson, which was over one month ago, my students are stating that this product has a cycle!
dawnm44's picture

January 27, 2013 - 9:54am

This is a fun lesson. I

This is a fun lesson. I really like the way it connects the products life cycle to living things life cycle. You could open it up to have each group come up with (or research) the life cycle of an animal or plant from a different ecosystem or biome to increase variety in their answers.