School:Carnegie Mellon / MIT
Team:Georgia Van de Zande, Ty Van de Zande, Raph Weikart

New Minute Maid Kids STEM3 boxes will soon be the envy of thirsty third graders, the best helping hand to carpooling moms, and the savior of teachers and school janitors who regularly wrestle with juice box problems. STEM3 boxes make it easier for kids to open drinks, reduce spills, and eliminate straw wrappers that make their way to corners of cars, classrooms and landfills.

A squeeze on the sides of the box tears open the adhesive sealing in the juice and straw. Once the seal is broken, a straw pops up, and the juice is ready to drink without a wrapper to discard. The adhesive seal, the pinching of the straw before opening, and a gasket around the opening ensure that juice won’t leak. A two-part, telescoping straw lets kids pull the straw out and still reach juice at the bottom. When the box is squeezed open, the box’s interior volume increases, leaving empty space for juice, avoiding accidental squirting out the top. The volume of the juice remains 6.75 fl oz. The hexagonal base is more stable than the standard rectangle and gives kids a better grip in the center, all leading to fewer accidents.

Not only do STEM3 boxes make drinking juice easier, they inspire kids to keep learning, in a fun, engaging way. We’ve designed STEM3 to introduce young students to areas of STEM education: the opening mechanism, the graphics which introduce STEM concepts, project ideas that involve reusing straws, and fun facts relative to the theme of each juice-flavored box. The learning potential appeals to parents with purchasing power, teachers will be relieved from assisting in opening and inserting straws, and kids will enjoy drinking the juice, learning about these areas of STEM, and repurposing the straws as they explore the projects provided.

STEM3 boxes make sense for both Coca-Cola and the environment. The manufacturing process will be similar to the current process, decreasing the number of new machines needed. Individual boxes inversely fit together when stored, reducing diesel and shipping costs. The materials of the juice boxes will shift to previously recycled paper, polyethylene, and aluminum. To produce the bright, fun colors on the box, we chose to print with soy-based inks which are more durable, more cost-effective and less taxing on the environment. While the ability to recycle STEM3 boxes is location-specific, our focus was the straw’s second life and elimination of the straw’s wrapper. The straws, made of recycled polyethylene, are manufactured slightly thicker than current straws to allow kids to build and experiment. The projects illustrated on the boxes require kids to collect their straws, creating a “market” for straws on the playground and keeping them out of landfills.

Each STEM3 box brings kids on new adventures, turning the lunchroom into outer space, a chemistry lab, or the sea floor. The name, STEM3 reflects the straw “growing” of the box upon opening, the STEM education theme, and the juice that comes from real fruit…with real stems!