History of Technology/Invention Unit

Activity Two

       The whole class will examine and discuss the development of a complex tool by imagining a scenario which includes the entire prehistory of the tool.  This activity will continue the idea that successful technology development depends on previous innovation. TEKS for Technology Applications 3D, 1E

       Materials Needed:  paper or computers, drawing programs (like Painter, Illustrator), presentation programs (like Powerpoint), possibly a variety of other computer-based tools (depending on the direction the group chooses).

       Method of Instruction: Research and Investigation.  The idea is to find more examples to support the meaning of the concept that technology builds on previous technology.

       Ask the students to explain how a log floating in a river could have led to the invention of the laptop computer. Working in groups, they should develop a scenario which would explain the process.  Click here to see what I did with my classes.

       [Possible Example (don't tell the kids this):  Log floats...humans watch it move downstream.  Humans decide to travel on the log  ...downstream is easy, but not very controllable  ...they find that dragging a stick works, so the rudder is invented.  To move against the current, oars are invented, then sails. Wind is used to create power with windmills.  People later figure out ways to save the power and redistribute it  ...eventually power sources are available to make things portable. Computers develop on a different thread (marks on a tablet, abacus, etc.), all leading toward the same end  ...a portable computer that can operate under its own power. ]

       Have students develop their data into a format which can be displayed in a visual form which will be understandable to the rest of the students….charts, cartoons, sketches, etc.  Students from each group will present their findings to the whole class.  As the students present their materials, clarify any misconceptions or problems by allowing open discussion to verify the probability of each scenario working according to the model the students have developed.

       Final question: How do our findings exemplify that systems can be simple or complex and that systems build upon previous systems?

       Assessment of this section of the unit: Students will self-check their data as they acquire it, then verify accurateness within their groups. It will be open to challenge in the group discussions as well.

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