WIDGET PRODUCTION: Producing More, Using Less

STUDENT'S VERSION

This lesson printed from:
http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.php?lid=865&type=student

INTRODUCTION

welderIn the lesson, 'Widget Production,' you participated in a simulation and learned about different ways to produce a good. You played the role of a craftsperson or a specialist. Some of you invested in your human capital and some invested in capital resources to produce your widgets.

TASK

  • Take a quiz to review the major concepts you learned making widgets.
  • Search the web to learn about different inventors and how their inventions increased productivity.
  • You will identify a situation where an increase in productivity could alleviate a problem and create a way to solve the problem.

PROCESS

Part I
Part II

Go to the Inventor of the Week Archive website.

Working with a group, locate information on your assigned inventor and answer the following questions:

  1.  What did your inventor invent?
     
  2. What problem did this invention solve?
     
  3. How did this invention increase productivity?
     
  4. What was the impact of increasing productivity?
     
  5. What new industries or businesses evolved as a result of this invention?

Part III

Sometimes inventions are created to increase productivity but never become marketable solutions. To learn about one of these inventions, The Self-Waiting Table, visit the Wacky Patent of the Month website for a picture and description.

 Answer the following questions:

  1. What was the purpose of the self-waiting table?
     
  2. How would this invention increase productivity?
     
  3. What would be a cost of using the self-waiting table in your home or a restaurant today?
     
  4. What would be a benefit of using the self-waiting table in your home or a restaurant today?
     
  5. Restaurants today do not use the self-waiting table. What do they do that is similar to increase productivity?

CONCLUSION

At the end of this lesson, you should have learned that producers are continually interested in increasing the productivity of labor and other inputs. An increase in productivity occurs when a given amount of inputs can produce more output. An increase in productivity also occurs when fewer inputs produce the same output. You should realize, even today, individuals and businesses have been looking for a way to increase their productivity.

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY

At the end of this lesson, you should have learned that producers are continually interested in increasing the productivity of labor and other inputs. An increase in productivity occurs when a given amount of inputs can produce more output. An increase in productivity also occurs when fewer inputs produce the same output. You should realize, even today, individuals and businesses have been looking for a way to increase their productivity.

Assessment Activity:

To identify a situation where an increase in productivity could alleviate a problem in your school, home, or community and create a way to increase productivity to solve this problem.

If you need guidance, consider the following productivity problems:

machinistHow to make your bed faster in the morning.
How to speed up the long lines of students waiting to buy lunch in the cafeteria.
How to wash dinner dishes in less time.
How to eliminate traffic jams on the highways during morning rush hour traffic.

You will need to prepare a final written report that includes the following information:

  • A statement of the problem.
  • An explanation of how their invention solves the problem and increases productivity.
  • A model or drawing of their invention and a description of how it works.
  • A list of the costs and benefits of implementing their invention to solve the problem.

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

Rube Goldberg Inventions

workersRube Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author. Through his 'inventions', Rube Goldberg discovered harder ways to achieve easy results. He believed that there were two ways to do things, the simple and the hard way, and that many people preferred doing things the hard way.

Go to the Rube Goldberg web site.
Look at examples of Rube Goldberg's inventions. Select one of Rube Goldberg's inventions and create a more efficient solution for the problem.

A Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is held yearly. To see past problems and information about the contest go to the Rube Goldberg web site, click on contest, and proceed to current contest.