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Ask EiE: Alternate Lessons Explore "What is Technology?"

Posted by Cynthia Berger on Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016.01.14_EiE_prep_lesson_Tech_in_a_Bag.jpgQ: My students are starting their second EiE unit. Do they have to work through the “What is Technology” activity again?

A: The answer is, “It depends!” All EiE units start with the prep lesson "Tech in a Bag" where students open “mystery bags” that contain different kinds of technologies. 

Examining low-tech items like socks and spoons helps students to expand their understanding of what the term "technology" means.

(WATCH THE "Tech in a Bag" VIDEO)

"Tech in a Bag" is designed to address two common misconceptions

  1. “All technologies are powered by electricity” and
  2. “Only objects with moving parts are technologies.” 

Do a quick assessment to see if you need to repeat “Tech in a Bag.” (For example, ask students write out a definition of “technology” and hand it in as they leave class.) If they seem to have a good understanding of the term, it’s fine to skip “Tech in a Bag.”

If your students need a refresher, repeat the activity, or try one of these alternatives:

  • 2016.01.14_EiE_Technology_flashcards_app.jpgThe simplest solution: Put new technologies in your mystery bags. Kitchen utensils, workbench tools, and office supplies are all good possibilities.
  • Download EiE’s “Technology Flashcards” app. If you have access to iPads, your students will love this fun, hand-held game.
  • Try a variation of “Tech in the Bag." The activities listed below can be downloaded from the Engineering Adventures section of our website. 
  1. Guess the Technology: This activity works well with younger students. Break into teams; team members look inside their bag but hide the technology from the rest of the class. Teams come up with clues to help others guess what’s in their bag.
  2. 2016.01.14_EiE_Guess_the_Technology-1.jpgTechnology Tag”: If you can you move your class to the gym, kids will love this one! Label one wall “Technology” and the other “Not a Technology.” Call out (or hold up) a “Tech in a Bag” item. Have kids run to the appropriately labeled wall. Repeat till you work through all the technologies, then reflect.
  3. Technology Icebreaker”:  Great at the start of the school year; helps kids get to know each other. Put all the items in a big bag; kids sit in a circle and pick one item from the bag. They take turns explaining whether or not their item is a technology, and why.
  4. Tools of the Trade”: Best for older elementary students, in the gym; boosts understanding of the term “technology” AND illuminates what engineers do in their work. Divide kids into two teams who line up on opposite sides. On a center line, place two cards: one shows the Engineering Design Process, the other a toolbox with hammers and screwdrivers. Read scenarios (for example, “I need someone to figure out the best place along a river to build a bridge” or “My car has a flat, I need someone to fix it”). Kids race to pick up the card with the best tool for the job.

Do you have another activity that helps students explore what "technology" means? Please share it! If we use it on the blog, we’ll thank you with the EiE Teacher Guide of your choice.

Share your Teacher Tip!

 Engineering is Elementary is a project of the National Center for Technological Literacy® at the Museum of Science, Boston.





Written by Cynthia Berger

Topics: EiE Resources for Teachers

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