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How I reduced the weight of my children's school bags
 
By Elson T. Elizaga
 


Student and heavy trolley bagI have two kids studying in grade school in the Philippines and each of them pulled a seven-kilo trolley school bag. But I found a way to reduce the weight by more than one half.


Before I describe the technique, let me state that for three years my wife and I did not see any problem at all with the weight because the wheels of the trolley bags made the load seem light.

But in 2015, our eldest child moved to grade three, and his classroom was on the second floor of the school. To reach the room, he had to pull his monstrous trolley bag loaded with textbooks, notebooks and a bottle of water up two flights of stairs.

We realized my son did not have to experience this ordeal. I decided to lift the trolley bag for him everyday.

Eventually, I came up with an idea. I went to a printing press and asked the manager to split the textbooks. If a textbook contained 200 pages, I had it split somewhere in the middle. The middle did not have to be between pages 100 and 101, but between two chapters.

I also split the thick notebooks at home by detaching half of the pages, and reassembling the remaining pages using a long stapler. [The following year, I stopped splitting notebooks and bought 80-page notebooks instead because they were light.]

What was the result? The textbook weight, originally two kilos, was reduced to one. The one-kilo notebooks are now half. Now my kids don't need the heavy trolley bags. They're using small, light backpacks. Fully loaded with school materials, including a bottle of water, each backpack weighs only two kilos.


EFFECT OF HEAVY BAG

In 2015, my son carried a backpack loaded with split books. The bag was 2 kilos.

In 2016, his backpack was 3 kilos. If we didn't split the textbooks, he would be carrying 4.8 kilos.

Put mouse over the photo and see the effect of 4.8 kilos on his posture.

US chiropractors say “students should carry no more than 10% of their body weight in a backpack.”
Student carrying 3-kilo school bag


What a relief. I used to lift the trolley bags and put them inside the car, drive the kids to school, open the back door of the car, lift the trolley bags again, tell the kids to pull them to their classroom before I carry one bag to the second floor. But now the kids bring the backpacks themselves. They get in and out of the car and proceed to their classrooms without my help.

There was a small problem, though, during the splitting of the textbooks. The first half became deprived of a back cover and the second half lacked a front cover. But this condition was easily solved. The printing press simply had the original cover photocopied in black-and-white.

A black-and-white photocopy did not seem to be a good idea, but I saw an advantage: The first half of each textbook retained a full-colored front cover and the second half acquired a black-and-white front cover. The beauty of this difference is the ease in knowing which half of the textbook is first and which is second.

Textbook split in two. The first half has a full-colored cover. The second half has a black-and-white cover. This is my son Diego's science textbook that I have split, resulting in two volumes. The first volume has the original front cover. The second has a black-and white front cover.

Later I realized another benefit from splitting the textbooks. Usually, an entire textbook suffers from wear-and-tear because of regular use. But if it is split, only the first part, the one used in school, initially degrades. The second remains new because it is kept in a locker at home, until the kids need them.

My only concern is that, as a friend said, I might be accused of copyright infringement because I have photocopied the covers. I hope the publishers will use the idea instead, and split the textbooks. I also hope the secretary of the Department of Education, Leonor Magtolis Briones, finds this article, and consider requiring publishers to split their textbooks.

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UPDATE: The author is verifying a report about a grade six student named Melanie who developed spinal injury because of prolonged carrying of heavy school bag. She was unable to walk and became bedridden in 2013. Melanie was a student of Pedro Oloy N. Roa Elementary School in barangay Calaanan, Cagayan de Oro.

Published Sept. 9, 2015. Revised April 18, 2017. © 2017 Elson T. Elizaga.