Are Students’ Backpacks Too Heavy?

Sophia Robertson, Staff Writer

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Six notebooks, three binders, five folders, a planner, a calculator, a lunchbox, a 998 page textbook, and a pencil pouch. That is what I, and many others, carry to and from school every day. On top of this, many students carry another bag with a change of clothes and other supplies if they participate in an after school sport. At the beginning of the fifth week of school, my backpack weighed a total of 22.6 pounds! This is the weight not including a full water bottle and packed lunch! Doctors recommend that backpacks do not weigh more than 10-15% of the student’s body weight. For example, if someone weighs 100 pounds, they should not carry a backpack any larger than fifteen pounds or they are likely to have back pain in the future.

As I was discussing this topic with a fellow staff member, I was asked if I thought that backpacks were too heavy because students buy too many unnecessary school supplies or if it is because the teachers want us to have very specific things, like a binder specifically for that class, and they want us to bring the textbook to school every day instead of leaving it at school or at home. That question really got me thinking and I came to the conclusion that it was a mix of both. Personally, I love buying school supplies and organizing my things so I want a folder and a notebook for each class. I also love having tons of colors of pens and markers to color coordinate my things! This makes my backpack heavier, but that is probably not the only reason. I have had multiple teachers ask for a binder specifically for that class which is very problematic. First, I have to stuff my belongings into my bag to make it fit and second, I have to carry around a bag that weighs me down as I rush to my classes. Although classes are all over school, do you think that we should be given lockers to help keep some of our supplies? I did not think that a locker would be necessary, but after these few weeks of school have passed by and my backpack keeps getting heavier, I see how a locker could possibly be helpful.

I spoke to a couple of students at Page asking them if they thought that their backpack was too heavy. First, I interviewed freshman. Next, I talked to sophomores about the issue. Finally, I interviewed juniors and seniors. The results from each poll are shown in the pie charts below. As I was talking to fellow Pirates, I did not encounter many juniors and seniors in the IB program. I did, however, meet Hannah Wyrick, a senior in the International Baccalaureate program. She agreed that backpacks were too heavy and thought that it was because she bought tons of folders and other supplies and also because teachers fill those folders to the brim! Out of the 56 students interviewed, 37 believe that backpacks are too heavy and the other 19 disagree. This is a 195% difference, meaning that the ratio of students that think backpacks are too heavy versus students that think backpacks are not too heavy is almost 2:1! As you take a look at these charts I would like to ask you, is your backpack too heavy?

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