For our last meeting I asked them which badge they would like to complete and they almost unanimously choose the "Product Designer" badge. So I used the Girl Guide insert which is laid out in a similar fashion as the old Brownie "Try It" book to create my activities. The inserts can be purchased at your local Girl Scout Store and easily added to your Girl Guide binder. Each Journey has a set of badges you can achieve simultaneously with the completion of your Journey. I know this has caused some confusion for some leaders. As a leader you can choose to complete the Journey, badges or both. In combination the leaders have a host of activities to pick and choose from, but the Journey's are most time consuming and require the most commitment from the troop. The journey's are far more educational with activities, whereas the badges are more hands-on in concept. I do not recommend you start a Journey unless you intend to complete it for several reasons: the Journey patches are sold as pieces in a set and the Journey patches are far more prestigious. You can take great pride in completing a full Journey from start to finish. The badges are a nice addition because you can add these activities as filler for meetings or to accentuate the learning experience of a Journey.
The Product Designer insert I purchased and placed in my Girl Guide recommended 5 Steps to obtain the Product Designer Badge. Similar to the Brownie Try-Its, these steps are simply suggestions. You can use all of their steps, add your own or create your own so long as the concepts relate to product design. Girl Scouts has taken a great deal of time creating a set of activities and guidelines, so I typically use most, if not all of the steps. (Why re-invent the wheel?)
Step #1 Observe what makes a great product:
First, we discussed exactly what a product is. I polled the group for an accurate definition. Many of the girls thought it could only be a product that was hand-made. When in fact granite can be refined and be considered a product, but it is not hand-made which really challenged the girls in concept. Also we discussed that a product can be an artifact, object, fabric or substance.
I brought 5 different water bottles to our meeting and asked the girls what they liked and disliked about each. This created a lot of discussion. Kids use water bottles almost every day at our school so they had a lot to offer in the discussion. We talked about metal vs. plastics, pull-top lids vs. screw-off lids, the shape and size of the bottle and so much more.
Also to stress the point that a product can be a substance we blind taste-tested 3 orange juices. My co-leader poured OJ in unlabeled dixie cups. Tropicana(no pulp), Minute Maid (no-pulp) and Kroger Brand (with pulp). This experiment offered a quick and obvious favorite. Tropicana won by a land slide and Kroger brand with the pulp was quickly identified as the sore loser. The obvious question the girl's enjoyed discussing is why Tropicana was their favorite? The girls had some unique critiques! I asked the girls if they thought the order in which they taste tested the products had any bearing on their decision? This too offered a lot of discussion. The girls really enjoyed this activity!!!!
Step #2 Be an innovative detective:
Step 3# Figure out what's working and not working
Based on what we liked and disliked about each water bottle we placed them in order of preference. This was a group activity I was surprised that they all agreed on the order.
Step #4 Innovate to find solutions
Next I asked each girl how they would improve the water bottles if they could make one on their own. One girl wanted to add a small fan for field day, another girl suggested a mister. Many requested a larger or smaller size. Also a few agreed an ice pack added to the side would be nice. It was really quite impressive how creative the girls were.
Step #5 (I created my own steps) Design a Product
I asked the girls to break off into couples and create a product. They could make anything and it does not have to work, it could simply be a concept. Also they choose to improve an existing product. They had to sketch the concept and describe it.
Step #6 Commercial
Finally I asked the girls to create a short commercial trying to sell their product. They really enjoyed this! Some girls came up with songs, slogans and infomercials like Seen on TV products.
Here are some of the products my girls invented:
The Automatic Co. - offering a digital automatic toilet paper dispenser. The user simply types in his age and weight. And this company offer a lock-type magnet that squeezes stall doors shut so the doors will not open and the door crack is hidden.
The Quick Pretzel Maker - Cooks fresh pretzels in 10 seconds in your microwave
The Super-Duper Shoe - that offers a fragrance for fresh smelling feet, built in socks and a spring to lift your step
The Flipper Shoe which appears to be a typical pair of shoes, but when you push the button a flipper appears for swimming
The Awesome Binder which could replace your backpack, much easier to carry and stores a great deal.
Overall this was a great experience for the girls. I hope my blog offers you some inspirational ideas and gets your creative juices flowing! I have attached my hand-out I created for my girls to guide our activity.