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Fun Factory for sixth-graders

Ohio EPA, Office of Pollution Prevention, January 1996
Based on the Fun Factory Exercise Developed by the
Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

There are things that a factory can do so they take some of the pollution out of the air or water before it leaves the factory. This costs money!!!

Today we're going to talk about things factories can do so that they make less pollution, and therefore have less pollution to take out. This is called Pollution Prevention.

Pollution Prevention is all about thinking about how you do things and finding better ways to do them so that you make less pollution.

We're going to pretend that we are people working in a factory and experience what pollution prevention is. Some factories use things like metal, paint, plastic (Materials) to make products.

You will be using play-doh to make play-doh products like ropes or stars.

Some factories use equipment to shape metal or plastic. Your equipment is play-doh fun factories.

Now, you are six factories all in the same city. I am an important customer who buys play-doh products from you. Then I sell them at stores to other people. I don't like to buy from six different factories, and would rather buy from just one. I'm going to give each of your factories a few small orders. Whichever factory gives me the best products the quickest will be the factory I buy from in the future. It has to be good and fast (Quality and Speed).

Please do not touch the play-doh or fun factories until we tell you to. PASS OUT fun factories, identity cards and waste charts. Let the kids pick who they want to be.

Each factory has four people:

Boss - You own the factory, but you don't get very involved in the actual making of the product. You're kind of like the principal. The boss is the person that the customer talks to. The most important thing in the world to you is to be the factory that the customer picks for all future orders, because you don't want to go out of business. That means you want products quick and good.

Technician - You actually work the equipment and make the product.

Production manager - You are the person in charge. You are kind of like the teacher in a class room. The most important thing to you is keeping the boss happy. Your most important job is to see that the parts are done quickly!

Quality control - You are responsible for making sure that the product is good quality. If the customer says that one of the parts isn't good enough, the boss will get mad at you.

I will tell the bosses what the orders are. The bosses will go back and tell the production manager, who will tell the technician.

You will have waste play-doh. Once play-doh has been inside the machine, it is waste and can't be used again. We're going to separate out the waste while we make the products. The adults will help with that. Production waste - product doesn't look good enough, too much play-doh in machine. Color waste - I'll give several orders, changing colors, you will have to clean out machines and put new play-doh in. You want to make as little waste as possible - remember, play-doh costs money, it costs money to get rid of waste play-doh, and you don't want to pollute the environment. Think about ways you can make less waste. If you have ideas that you can't do (such as having two technicians) tell your adult, who will write it down.

Technicians only use the equipment. Everybody can help sort waste and talk about ideas for preventing pollution.

All orders - smooth, don't mold by hand, no color contamination. If you have a bad looking piece of product, or have other colors in it, put into production waste.

Give the orders one at a time - wait until all or most groups are done before giving the next order. Wander around, banter with the bosses - "Hey, those ropes ready for me yet? The Jones' Factory already showed me their shipment!" Reject product that doesn't meet spec.

1. 5 green ropes, as long as the can.

2. 3 pink three point stars, as tall as the can lid.

3. 3 green three point stars, as tall as the can lid.

Call me if you want me to check to see if ok.


Why did you make waste?
What did you change, and what would have liked to have changes?

Five holed die instead of 16-holed die
Contaminated play-doh
Better factories
Production scheduling
Better knife
Uneven pressure
Better packing
Measuring equipment
Fun factory specialist
Softer raw material

Changes to equipment, ingredients, people (experience), how (production scheduling)

These things make sense, don't they? They just require some thought.
Do you think factories should look at their waste, try to come up with pollution prevention ideas?

How about you? Do you think you can use pollution prevention to reduce pollution in your own house and school?

Some types of waste (try to get them to come up with answers):

Cleaning house:
- paper towels, dirty water
- rags, non-hazardous cleaners ( I use a lot of these, like them, safer with kids in the house, do require some extra scrubbing)

- bag, wrapper, plastic forks and spoons, juice boxes, cans
- lunch bags or boxes, silver ware, tupper ware

Washing a car:
- throw away rags, dirty water
- let car get a little dirty, reuse rags

- use plants that are more resistant to bugs so that you don't have to use as much pesticide, let good bugs live in garden, don't rake leaves, compost, don't overwater

- special faucets that use less water, fix leaking faucets, take showers instead of baths

In our fun factory exercise, we looked at how we made waste, talked about how to make less. You can do the same at home - write down everything you throw away for one week. Ask your parents to do the same for one day. Then think - how can you prevent pollution?

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