The Product Designer badge is part of the “It's Your Story - Tell It!” badge set introduced in 2011.
For the badges released in 2011, scouts must complete all of the activities listed to earn the badge.
Activity #1: Observe what makes a great product
Every day, we rely on a lot of things to make our lives easier, like school buses, chairs, and shoes. Some of these products we love and some we dislike. So what makes a product great? Pick one choice to choose a product. Then make a call out chart for that product. Label the parts of the product then call out five things that make it great and five things you want to change.
CHOICES – DO ONE:
Choose a product you use at school. It might be your desk, a pen, or a notebook.
Choose a product from a hobby. Whether you’re a soccer star, play the flute, or love to read books, your hobby likely uses some equipment.
Choose a home product. It might be a sponge used to wash dishes, a rake used for leaves in the yard, or the TV in the living room.
Activity #2: Be an innovation detective
Step 2 Be an innovation detective It’s not always easy to tell why a product works and why it doesn’t. Observing people using the product can be the best way to figure it out. If using a part of the product is difficult, it could be a sign that the product needs innovation!
CHOICES – DO ONE: Observe. Watch a friend or family member use a product, and jot down at least five things they do. For example, does a shopping cart always seem to be stuck to the cart in front of it when you pull on it at the supermarket? Then try the product yourself and write down your reactions.
Interview. Ask a friend or family member how they use their favorite product. Find out what they like, what they don’t like, and whether they sometimes use another product to do the same thing. For example, if your grandfather loves his cassette player, find out if he uses an MP3 player sometimes and why. Next, use the product and write down your reactions.
Photograph. Take pictures of a friend, family member, or neighbor using a product. If they’re using a backpack: How are they taking it off and on? How do they put their things inside? How do they close it? Write down actions that seem odd or surprising. Then try the product and list your reactions in your notebook.
Activity #3: Figure out what's working and what's not
Step 3 Figure out what’s working and what’s not When you tie your shoes, you probably do things in the same order each time. You have to put the shoes on, then lace up them, and then tie the laces. If you tie the laces before you put on the shoes, it just won’t work! Innovators study every step of how people use products to uncover and solve problems.
CHOICES – DO ONE: Step by step. Watch a friend or family member using a product, and write down their actions step by step. For example if an adult is driving a car what do they do first? Do they put on their seat belt, then put the car in gear, and then turn the ignition key? Circle or mark the steps with which they had trouble.
Draw the product. Label each part of the product, what it’s for, and how it is used. For example, a backpack has a handle for carrying by hand, but some people also clip pens to it. Sometimes problems occur when a part is used differently from how it’s meant to be used. Mark the areas where the user had trouble or made an adjustment to make it work for them.
Analyze a group of products. Often, existing products all address the same problem – or overlook it. Collect at least five similar products and compare them. For example, if you picked cereal boxes, you might find that some cereals offer vitamins, and others seem more like dessert. What does that tell you about the problems that cereals solve? Now write down two problems the products solve, and two problems that have been overlooked.
Activity #4: Innovate to find solutions
Step 4 Innovate to find solutions Choose the product you looked at in steps 1, 2, and 3 that could use the most improvement. If you found more than one problem with the product, pick one on which to focus. Try one of these activities to come up with as many solutions as you can.
CHOICES – DO ONE: From terrible to terrific! Sometimes coming up with the wrong way to solve a problem can help get to the right way. Jot down or draw five ways to make your product’s problem worse! Now look at each “wrong” idea and jot down or draw the opposite idea. For example, a terrible backpack might have thin straps that dig into the wearer’s shoulders, but a terrific backpack has wide, cushy straps.
Troubleshoot. Troubleshooting is searching for the cause of a problem so you can fix it. Try to identify what’s causing trouble with your product and brainstorm five ideas to make that part better. If your problem is that everything in your backpack gets mixed up, troubleshoot by finding ways to make more or better compartments.
Fire the product, keep the job! Every product has a job to do. A backpack’s job is to transport your books. Instead of using a backpack, someone could use a suitcase, a horse or a helpful friend! Come up with five ways to get the job done without your product. These will get you thinking about your product differently.
Activity #5: Mess up so you can try again
Step 5 Mess up so you can try again! When making a product better, coming up with ideas is only the first step. Innovators aren’t worried when their ideas aren’t perfect, because the best products are developed over time, with lots of feedback from people who use them. Here, pick your best idea and find out why it doesn’t work perfectly. Then, keep innovating!
CHOICES – DO ONE: Draw your idea. Draw how your idea solves the problem and makes the product easier to work with and better than it was before. Call out the parts as you did in step 1. Then ask a friend, family member, or neighbor what they think. Do they think it’ll work? Update your drawing to include their feedback. OR
Build a prototype. A prototype is what innovators call a 3D model. Using cardboard, paper, dough, fabric, or other appropriate material, build a model of what your idea would look like and how it would work. Ask a group for feedback, and then modify your prototype with their suggestions. OR
Make your change on the original product or a similar product. Test it out yourself, and then demonstrate how it works to a parent, friend, or Girl Scout sister. Do they think the product is improved? What changes would they make? Draw what you’d change about the product based on their feedback.
For More Fun: Take photos of people using your product for your notebook!