Evolution of Technology Module
Technology involves manipulation of the environment to meet human needs such as food, shelter, communication, and health. The development of various technologies within the last 10,000 years of human history has been affected by and has affected the environment, human societies, and science.
The Evolution of Technology module combines investigations of these aspects of technology with student projects that illustrate them in detail. Students work in teams to complete a research project which focuses on one type of technology. Supporting materials have been provided for the teacher, including a comprehensive poster assessment rubric, as well as help in managing projects and student teams and resources that cover project-specific and general areas of technology. Materials are also provided for the student, including the rubric, research help, general resources, and design suggestions.
The first lesson, What is Technology?, begins with an assessment of students' current understanding about technology. Students then examine and sort a variety of common gadgets to identify the major categories of technology according to the human needs they meet, and then pose initial definitions of technology. A reader article on chopsticks and forks leads to a discussion of the effects of location and culture on the development of technologies.
Technologies Over Time, lesson two, starts with the construction of a scaled timeline of major events throughout the history of technology in the context of the evolution of everything, beginning with the Big Bang about 15 billion years ago. Students are then introduced to the technology poster project, which requires them to research a particular technology ("project topic") and produce a poster on it. This introduction is done via an example project on the radio. Students learn to use the assessment rubric, which outlines the poster requirements, as they explore the radio example project. The lesson continues with students beginning their own projects, researching and identifying key events in the histories of their selected technologies/project topics and preparing this information for their posters.
Lesson three, How Technologies Work, begins with students building a simple radio and examining its structures and functions. The radio serves as a model to introduce the next part of the students' projects: identifying the scientific principles involved in their own project topics. Class time is provided for students to conduct research and produce a model or other visual display.
In Effects of Technology, lesson four, students first examine a light bulb, learning about the materials from which it is made and the countries from which the United States imports these materials. This prepares students to use a geographical database of natural resources to investigate the materials used to produce their own project topic/technology, which they map for their posters. Each of these activities engages students in discussions of global effects of technology. Students go on to examine effects of technology on individuals, using the results of surveys they have been conducting (introduced in lesson three) and the interrelationships among technologies in general. Class time is provided for students to work on the effects of technology sections of their posters.
Lesson five, Into The Future, starts with students graphing sample data from each major technology category to determine how these technologies developed over time and to project the potential development into the future. They then discuss how the human needs met by their own project topics may be met differently in the future. Class time is provided for students to work on their future inventions and rationales for them.
The final lesson, Closing, begins with a poster session, in which students share their completed posters and analyze them for common trends. In their analyses they are asked to recapitulate the major concepts of the module. There are also three summative assessments of student learning: a take home essay based on the poster analyses, a concept map, and a reflection on initial and final definitions of technology.
The Technology module was a tremendous asset in teaching about the differences and similarities between science and technology. The module helped the students understand why science is taught. I would strongly recommend this particular module.
- Rachel Badanowski, Southfield HS, Southfield, MI
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