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Age Range: 11-14
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • D&T

Ergonomics and design

Analyse an existing product and how this could affect the design of a new product

In this activity students will learn about ergonomics and design by analysing a wireless product using ACCESS FM. Learners will identify strengths and weaknesses and consider how to improve the product.

Learning about ergonomics is a fantastic introduction to engineering for children, allowing them to step into the world of designing and improving products in a practical way.

This is one of a set of resources developed to support the teaching of the secondary national curriculum, particularly KS3. It can be effectively taught within design technology (DT) as part of the curriculum for systems and control, electronic products, or product design, or through science.

Activity: Analysing an existing product and designing a new and improved version

In this lesson, students will work in teams to conduct a product analysis of a provided wireless product, such as a TV with a remote control or a remote control car.

They'll use the ACCESS FM framework to guide their analysis. ACCESS FM is a framework used in product design that stands for Aesthetics, Cost, Customer, Environment, Size, Safety, Function, and Materials. Each of these elements plays a critical role in the design and development of a product.

While Access FM is a structured approach, it also encourages creativity. In considering each facet of a product, students have the freedom to come up with innovative solutions to design challenges.

What does ergonomics mean in design technology (DT)?

In design technology (DT), ergonomics refers to the process of designing products, systems or processes to take proper account of the interaction between them and the people who use them. It's about ensuring that designs align with the capabilities and limitations of the user, thereby enhancing efficiency and safety.

For example, an ergonomically designed remote control would be shaped and sized to fit comfortably in a user's hand, with buttons positioned for easy reach of the fingers. It might also feature tactile feedback on the buttons to help users know they've pressed them, even without looking. Ergonomics in DT ensures that designs are not only functional, but also intuitive and user-friendly, enhancing the overall usability and experience of the product.

The engineering context

Ergonomics & design is a crucial aspect of engineering that focuses on the interaction between humans and the products, systems, or environments they use. It aims to improve these interactions by making them more comfortable, efficient, and safe.

Learning about ACCESS FM helps aspiring engineers understand the multifaceted nature of product design. It equips them with the knowledge to consider all the different factors that can impact a product's success, from its cost and aesthetics to its environmental impact and safety. This broader perspective can lead to more innovative and effective designs.

Suggested learning outcomes

The completion of this activity will enable students to explain how the analysis of existing products could affect the design of a new product. Students will gain a deep understanding of product design principles, the factors that influence design decisions, and how improvements can be made based on thorough product analysis.

Download our activity sheet and other teaching resources

The activity sheet includes teachers’ notes, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

You can download our step-by-step instructions below as a classroom lesson plan.

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