Biology/ Chemistry


Saving Humpty Dumpty


Christine Etapa

Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy

4420 South Sacramento Avenue






Students will describe how shoe design, manufacturing, retailing, consumer use, and disposal impact environments and societies.  Students will discuss ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle resources in the life-cycle for a shoe product. Students will investigate why consumers purchase certain shoe products. Students will examine the influence of packaging on consumer choice, and determine if consumers consider waste disposal, and recyclability, when making purchasing decisions.  Students will investigate the shock absorption and energy return of given surfaces.




Each of the materials listed below are understood to be per group.

One gallon container

Eight hard boiled eggs

Three poster boards

 Rubber Cement

meter stick


stop watch

graph paper

stirring stick/ latex gloves.


New vocabulary list


measuring cup

Nike rubber granules


Nike upper materials

Nike foam material

Elmer’s glue




1.               Review the concept of cycles.  Have students give examples of cycles.

2.               Tell students they’ll be starting a unit of study that uses an athletic shoe as an example of a product cycle.

3.               Discuss why they chose the shoes they are wearing, and ask if they considered waste disposal problems that could be caused by the shoes, or the packaging..

4.               Have students remove one of their athletic shoes, and examine its make-up.

5.               Make a pile of all the athletic shoes in the middle of the floor, and ask a volunteer to measure the length, width, and height of the shoe pile. Discuss the problem of waste disposal for these shoes, then expand to Chicago’s, then North America’s etc.

6.               Have student’s measure one shoe. How far would they all reach, if you place them toe to heel?  Expand on this idea.

7.               Have students weigh one of their shoes, double it, and calculate a class average. Discuss the municipal waste created if everyone buys 4 pr. of shoes per year? Expand.

8.               Introduce the concept of cycles, as it might apply to the pile of shoes.

9.               Introduce new vocabulary, noting the difference between recycling, downcycling, reducing, and reusing.

10.            Tell the students they are going to make some playground material, from used athletic shoes, and when it is dry, they will investigate its shock absorption, and energy return capability.

11.            Discuss Nike’s efforts in being environmentally conscious about its product waste.  They provide playground-surfacing material from product waste. Ask if this is recycling, downcycling, reusing, or reducing?.

12.            Students will follow directions given to them on handouts, to test various playground surfaces, using the scientific method. Data will be graphed later.


Performance Assessment:


1.               Students should be able to measure the materials being used with 100% accuracy.

2.               Students should be able to work in cooperative groups with little supervision.

3.               Students should be able to write up the experience using the scientific method, with 90% accuracy.

4.               Students should understand the concept of a cycle, with 100% accuracy.

5.               Students should understand the difference between recycling, downcycling, reusing, and reducing, with 90% accuracy.

6.               Students should have collected necessary data with 90% accuracy.

7.               Students should be able to graph the data they collected with 100% accuracy.

8.               Students should be able to graph the data they collected with 100% accuracy.

9.               Students should be able to choose products that are environmentally friendly, given the information discussed and experienced, with 100% accuracy.




Conserving resources and sharing responsibility for sustainable communities is a job for both consumers and businesses. This can be accomplished by conserving resources at the tech stage of a products life cycle, or by consumers making wise, and environmentally friendly choices, when they buy manufactured products.


Products undergo scientific testing to determine how to reuse and recycle them, or reduce waste made by them.  Materials may retain or change their properties in the recycling process.  Using controlled variables in experiments to test products helps establish clearer relationships between cause and effect.


Materials have different properties and vary in their abilities to absorb forces or return energy.




Sports Science for Young People, by George Barr (New York: Dover Publications, 1990, 1992).


For a free Nike Air to Earth teacher’s guide, kit, and Nike reuse a shoe material, write:

Nike, Inc.; C/o Reuse –A-Shoe/Air to Earth; One Bowerman Drive; Beaverton, Or 97005-6453

Mail between November 1st, and May 31st, or June 1st  and October 31st. First come first serve.


More Science Experiments for You: 112 Illustrated Experiments, by Bob Brown (Summit, PA: TAB Books, 1998)


The National Recreation and Park Association


The Playground Safety Initiative 





American Forest Foundation, Washington DC

California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacramento, CA

Florida Department of Education Tallahassee, FL

GEMS Project, University of Berkley, Berkley, CA

Lab for Interactive Learning, Institute for Policy and Social Science Research, University of New Hampshire, NH


NAARR/NIKE Project Team

            Suzi Cloutier

            Linda Hartmann

            Laila Kaiser

            Betsy Keithcart

            Ed McCrea

            Cara Morgan

            Deborah Simmons

            Shelley Taniguchi


NIKE Project Writer

            Joanne Glenn


Teacher Field-Test Reviewers

            Danielle Andrews

            Mary Beth Cunat

            Juanita Deavers

            Ersie Hammett

            Jon Kamen

            Greg Mills

            Madeline Smith

            Ernest Steele


Air to Earth Training Developer

            Susie Harpham