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Manufacturing Technician Teacher's Guide
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Recommended Grade Levels: 5-8

Tips for using the site with students      

1.     Before using this activity in class (or at home), go through the activity once to make sure it works correctly on your computer(s) or devices. Please be aware that this game is in HTML5, which is not stable across browsers and platforms. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes. Teachers and technical coordinators wanted games that could be used on tablets, but they didn’t want to download 25 apps every time a teacher wanted to play a game. The answer was to program in HTML5 which can be used on both computers and tablets. However, HTML5 acts very differently in different settings (device, presence or absence of network, etc.). If the activity does not load on the device after clicking the 'Start' button, please see the list of recommended browsers and devices below:

·        For desktop computers – we recommend using Safari, Chrome or Firefox browsers. Internet Explorer will only work where school district-level firewalls are NOT in place.

·        For laptop computers – it is entirely dependent on your network and bandwidth availability whether this game will work on laptops in a school setting (should work fine in a home setting). When we tested with schools, some school networks and laptops worked fine, others did not allow the game to load before timing out.

·        For iPads – use the Safari browser. Again, the speed and bandwidth of the school network could cause problems with loading the game.

·        For Android devices – we recommend using Firefox or Chrome browsers. The school network could cause problems with loading the game.

·        We do not recommend using the game on cell phones as there is a lot of visual detail in the game that would be missed on a device with a small screen.

·        We do not recommend less commonly used browsers such as Opera, Netscape, Dolphin, etc.

·        If the game is loading partially or stops in the middle of each section, this is most likely a buffering issue. Things to try: pause the game (button in lower right corner) and then restart; reload that section of the game; or talk to your IT staff about how to increase buffering capacity. In some cases, deleting internet history on the browser and closing unnecessary programs on the computer/device can increase buffering capacity quickly.

If you have trouble getting the game to play and figure out a work around or how to get to work in your setting, please email us at to share information about your device, browser, network and any other details you think important. We are trying to build a library of useful information for our users.

2.     Your computer or devices will need to have some sort of sound output. Either speakers or headphones will work well. The majority of this activity has voice audio. We highly recommend headphones or ear buds in a classroom setting. Students with hearing impairments can read the text at the bottom of the screen. If you are having difficulty hearing the audio, check the audio settings on your computer or device.

3.     We strongly recommend that students using computers use a real mouse, as the touch pads on laptop computers are more difficult to use for this activity and slow students down significantly.

4.     The worksheet is highly recommend for this activity and is available below here. If a teacher prefers not to use the worksheet, he/she should make this clear to the students, as the game refers to the worksheet numerous time.

5.     Students in the target grade-range will take approximately 35 - 40 minutes to complete the entire activity.

Assessment tools: Teachers may want to have students put their names on the worksheets and turn them in, which should indicate if students completed the assigned activity. There is also a quiz that can be given:

Student Worksheet | Ten-question Quiz

Answers to the student worksheet and quiz can be found in the Forums section of the site.

After students use the site, additional in-class discussion questions (which can also act as assessment tools) or activities can be asked or assigned:

·        When Jerome was troubleshooting the reason the manufacturing line stopped, why did he spend so much time checking fuses, talking to Hailey and looking at the timing when he already thought it was the limit switch?
Answer: Troubleshooting involves checking a variety of possibilities before narrowing in on a problem. For most companies and industries, there is almost always a recommended set of steps to figure out why something is wrong. Jerome was checking EVERYTHING to make sure that there were not multiple reasons why the line stopped, and, as he mentions several times, it’s always best to be thorough.

·        What are some advantages to troubleshooting the way Jerome was doing it?
Answer: Because of Jerome’s thoroughness, he is certain that the reason the line stopped cannot be anything other than the limit switch. Also, by checking fuses, talking to Hailey, checking timing and generally taking a good look at all the pieces and parts of the line, he is able to see what might need maintaining or replacing BEFORE it stops the line and costs the company money. He can be more proactive instead of reactive in his job. He’s also able to determine if Hailey knows her job or he could recommend to her supervisor that she might need more training.

·        If it is important to get the line started again and expensive ($3,000 - $4,000 an hour, or $50 - $66 per MINUTE the line is not working using the Edheads' figures in the game) when it stops, why did Jerome take so long to troubleshoot the problem?
Answer: While it may or may not have been true in this instance, Jerome and his supervisors know that skipping steps and missing problems is even more expensive in the long run. In this case, if he went straight to the limit switch and ignored timing when there really was a problem, then starting the line up again could have caused problems that impacted machinery, damaged engine blocks, or even hurt the line operators. Jerome checked everything carefully, even though it took time, so that when the line was started up again, he could be confident that everything was working at it should have been.

·        Why does Jerome carry around a list of tolerances for various types of switches and equipment? Why would a company that produces switches even take the time to test and research that information and come up with recommended tolerances?
Answer: As we saw after installing the new limit switch, not everything is perfect all the time. The new switch was 5 degrees off the horizontal (the arm would only travel from 90 degrees down to 5 degrees instead of going all the way to zero degrees). It’s important when working in a manufacturing plant (or almost any job), to know what is ‘good enough’ and what is not. The new limit switch, while not perfect, is good enough to get the job done and keep the line moving. If Jerome had spent time trying to make the switch perfect (travel down to zero degrees all the time), he would have cost the company quite a bit of money without changing anything of significance. In other words, the return on that investment of time would not have been worth anything to the company and would have prevented the line from checking more engine blocks. Most careers and types of businesses have standards and/or tolerances they need to meet.

·        Writing activity: Jerome was required to write a succinct summary of what occurred on section E12 of the line when it stopped, but we never saw what was in his report. Have your students summarize what happened in their own words, with a goal of being both thorough (what might other technicians need to know?) and brief, without skipping anything that might help the company. As a further extension, have them justify what they have included and what they have excluded from their summary.

·        This activity is about manufacturing lines. People in the US don’t think about manufacturing as being a ‘good’ career choice any more, but it is a great career! Modern manufacturing is sometimes referred to as ‘skilled manufacturing.’ Assign your students a research project to determine:

·        What sorts of skills are needed on manufacturing lines today?

·        What general types of certifications are required and how long does it take to get these certifications?

·        What is starting pay for someone with a job like Hailey’s as a manufacturing line operator? (our research indicates over $50,000 a year with a high school diploma!)

·        What is starting pay for someone with a job like Jerome’s as a manufacturing technician? (our research indicates over $70,000 a year with a 2 year associates degree!)

·        Skilled manufacturing jobs exist all over the country. What are some examples of companies or plants near your school that have such jobs? What do they make and what job openings do they have right now?

·        Ladder Logic exercise: The ladder logic diagram seen in the troubleshooting section of the game can be found here. Students can write out what each line of the Ladder Logic Diagram conveys or teachers can divide the class into six groups and assign each group a line of the Ladder Logic Diagram to interpret. Ladder logic diagrams are Boolean diagrams (true, not true) that indicate what is supposed to happen on a manufacturing line. This activity involves students in critical thinking and logic. Answers provided in the Forums section of this site.

·        Safety, Quality and Cost are aspects of the manufacturing line that this company (or any manufacturing company) emphasizes almost every day with every employee. Ask your students to give you examples of each of these aspects that they saw in the game.  Answer:

·        Safety: bump cap, flame retardant tech uniform, safety glasses are all good examples, but so are processes like lock out/tag out and checking the line before starting it.

·        Quality: checking the measurements of the cylinders with the robot and also checking the robot’s calibration with the hand-held measuring device; also the way Jerome went about troubleshooting the problem and then fixing it – he checked everything carefully and was very thorough.

·        Cost: Jerome and Hailey were both aware of time passing and the need to get the line moving again. This is an example of their cost awareness. They know the longer the line wasn’t working, the more expensive it got for the company. It's hard for any employee to 'see' money being wasted so some don't perceive of ‘down time’ as an expense, or don’t work hard to reduce lost time. However, those expenses are real and they get passed on to the consumer. The best employees, like Jerome and Hailey, want to insure their own success and that of the company they work for and strive to prevent and/or reduce down time whenever possible.

Engineering Design

3-5-TS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

MS-ETS1-3. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Common Core Math

5th Grade

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

·        Write and interpret numerical expressions

Number and Operations in Base Ten

·        Understand the place value system

·        Perform operations with multi-digit whole numbers and with decimals to hundredths

Measurement and Data

·        Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system

·        Represent and interpret data

Mathematical Practices

1.     Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

2.     Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

3.     Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

4.     Model with mathematics.

5.     Use appropriate tools strategically.

6.     Attend to precision.

National Science Standards

Content Standards

Grades 9-12:

·        Understandings about scientific inquiry

·        Matter, energy and organization in living systems and behavior of organisms

·        Abilities of technological design, understandings about science and technology

·        Natural and human-induced hazards, science and technology in local, national, and global challenges

·        Understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and science as a human endeavor


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