Everyday Engineering: Toothbrush design—Is there a better bristle?

Journal Article by: Richard Moyer and Susan Everett Digital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Manufacturers often claim that their particular toothbrush design is better than the competitors, but is it? As a result, engineers must consider the economic issues involved with selling the products they create, as well as their functionality: to produce the best possible toothbrush regardless of cost, or the toothbrush that will sell the most, or perhaps the toothbrush that costs the least to produce. This article describes a 5E learning-cycle lesson where students explore various manual toothbrush designs.

  • Middle

A selection from Science Scope—November 2010

  • Publication Date
  • Volume
  • Issue
  • ISSN
    Not Available
  • Pages

Community ActivitySaved in 74 Libraries

Reviews (3)
  • on Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:40 PM

This is another interesting article on Everyday Engineering. It gives a great history of the toothbrush and then has a 5E lesson on exploring which type of toothbrush cleans better. The photographs are helpful. I would liked to have seen a more detailed explanation of the plastic cup that was shown.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:39 PM

This is a great article on how to implement the 5E model while teaching the scientific process and engineering. The article contains very detailed information on how to run the lesson, provides information on the necessary supplies, and even offers suggestions on where to look for supplies. It even contains a student activity sheet that could be copied for distribution. Overall, this is an excellent example of a 5E model lesson that incorporates an interesting and everyday element –toothbrushes – for students to investigate.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Wed May 18, 2011 10:16 AM

This activity allows students, through a 5E model, to learn which design is ‘best’ for manual toothbrush bristles. This lesson teaches the concept of functionality of a product verses the cost. This is always something an engineer must face when developing a new product. This article provides an added bonus with an understanding of the health benefits of good dental hygiene. Along with this activity students must create a fair test to help explain the term ‘best’ which is a subjective term and not an objective term. This activity will appeal to students at a very personal level while they also learn.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

Free - NSTA Members

$1.29 - Nonmembers

Login or Create a Free Account to add this resource to your library.