Design & Engineering for Empathy (3 of 5): Form & Function

Lesson Title: Design & Engineering for Empathy (3 of 5): Form & Function
Academic Standards:
Content Creator: Mr. Craig Frehlich
Level: High School
Duration: 35-45 min
  /  Design & Engineering for Empathy (3 of 5): Form & Function


  • Students will be able to develop a model for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
  • Students will be able to practice observing carefully in order to recognize problems.

  • Students will be able to understand "systems" and apply them to flat-pack furniture.


We often say “form and function” are related. In this lesson, students will develop a deeper understanding of systems and apply them to how the form and function of flat-pack furniture works to enable users to have greater agency over their lives.


Students begin the lesson in the industrial arts center to play a "systems thinking" game called "Square-Off".  (see Rules and Instructions below)
Square Off: Rules
  • Participants will step onto a grid made of 25 squares all with the same color facing up.
  • As you step off a tile you need to flip it over and turn it a different color. You cannot step on it again.
  • Participants can only advance one square at a time, forward, backward or diagonal.
  • When there are no more tiles for you to step on you are out of the game.
  • Students will discuss what is "systems thinking".
  • Students will watch a video about Flat-pack Furniture.
  • Students will have to assembly various pieces of flat-pack furniture into the correct location and order to build various pieces of furniture.
  • Closure- students will be asked to discuss the pro's , con's and unintended consequences of using flat-pack furniture for Refugees.

Demonstratives & Media

Virtual Field Trips & Lab Demonstrations
Instructional Videos
3D objects

Suggested Ancillary Support

Key Vocabulary

Refugee: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.


Displaced Person: an individual who is forced to leave their home country because of war or persecution; a refugee.

Assemble: fit together the separate component parts of (a machine or other object).


Disassemble: take (something) to pieces.


Reassemble: put (something) together again.


Collapse: (of a structure) suddenly fall down,  give way or as a result of disassembly.


Expand : become or make larger or more extensive.


Flat-pack furniture: is furniture such as shelves and cupboards which you buy as a number of separate pieces and assemble yourself.

Refugee camp : a settlement to accommodate displaced persons who have fled their home country.