New Life: Container Reuse Resolves Storage and Waste – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
Fab-Modeling.2, Fab-Fabrication.2, Fab-Design.2

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Randall Ohman


Students think about how used food package containers could be used for parts organizers if the right holding system could be designed. They think of ideas, mock them up and then do dimensioned CAD models in preparation for laser cutting and 3D printing.

Students are rewarded with both solving a parts organizing and storage challenge and with helping keep waste packaging from land and waterways.

What You'll Need

  1. At least 20 – 30 of the same type of container that can be shared among students of the various classes.
  2. Tag board and/or cardboard to mock up designs partially as proof of concept.
  3. Durable laser cut’able thin sheet material to build prototypes with.
  4. Hot glue and guns.
  5. Box cutters and other hand tools for shaping and cleaning up edges.
  6. Marking pens, cutting mats, straight edges.
  7. Laser cutter and/or 3D printer


The Instructions

Project Start

Write what the problem is and what are some ways to solve it.

Think carefully about the container waste that might be part of your family’s way of life. Note what happens over time and with all the people. Cite some specific examples.

Pick a food container that you have access to many of. Sketch ways in how these might be put to reuse by putting parts to be organized in them.

Mock up Ideas

Students will qualify ideas by making paper or cardboard models.

Using easy to cut and bend materials like heavy paper and cardboard, make the shapes and put them together sufficiently to check the various ideas you’ve come up with so you can pick the best one.


Go through the process of figuring shapes and sizes in a CAD or illustrating program.

If laser cutting, design the best idea to proper size using 2D CAD or illustrating application that is supported by the cutter.

If 3D printing, then use a 3D modeling CAD app that has .stl output.


Make the idea prototype for testing and display.

Using your CAD files, make the necessary pieces so that you can assemble your storage system. Once built, check it for function, stability and ease of use. Make modifications to improve if time allows.


  • (Fab-Modeling.2): I can construct compound shapes and multi-part components ready for physical production using multiple representations.
  • (Fab-Fabrication.2): I can develop workflows across four or more of the following: modeling softwares, programming environments, fabrication machines, electronic components, material choices, or assembly operations.
  • (Fab-Design.2): I can participate in design reviews with prepared presentation materials as well as give and receive feedback from peers.

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