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Problem-Solving and the US Postal System

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Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science +2 Age Levels Primary (5 to 8 years old), Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This topical collection relates to two of the National Postal Museum's student programs: "First Class Problem Solvers: Ship-a-Chip" and "First Class Problem Solvers: Tube Transport." Both programs explore moments within USPS's history where the company faced challenges, or problems, and identifies how they resolved these issues. After learning more about problem-solving skills, and visiting key objects on display at NPM, students work in groups to find solutions to hypothetical problems--how do you successfully ship a single potato chip without it breaking and how to build a pneumatic tube system to transport a package across town?

Teachers may use this as a pre- or post-trip resource to prompt class discussion on:

  • Unique packages used throughout postal history;
  • Unexpected modes of transport within the mail system;
  • The impact science and industry have had in American history


Keywords: postal service, postal delivery,  mail service, mail delivery, transportation, pneumatic, pneumatic tubes