Light and Sound Inventions that Changed the World

Format
Let's Talk Science

How does this align with my curriculum?

Students will explore the societal impacts of inventions involving light and sound.

Summary

  • Students will identify inventions involving sound and light that they use frequently
  • Students will work collaboratively to analyze the impact of inventions involving sound and light on people’s lives
  • Students will ask questions about the impacts of inventions on people and society
  • Students will synthesize information from a variety of sources to assess the impacts of inventions on people’s lives

Setting the Stage

New inventions are constantly changing society and people’s lives. Many extremely impactful inventions have involved light and sound. Relating inventions to science content may help students connect what they are learning in class to their lives. Additionally, students who grew up with some of these inventions may not have considered them as inventions or thought about how they impacted the world. Analyzing how these inventions have impacted society and interviewing an older person will help students think critically about new inventions. 

In this lesson, students will identify inventions involving light and sound in their lives. Next, students will work in groups to analyze the impact of several inventions on people’s lives. Finally, students will interview an older family member or friend about how an invention involving light or sound changed their life. 

This is lesson 1 of 3 in a set that can be used sequentially or as standalone lessons. The suggested sequence for completing these lessons is:

  1. Light and Sound Inventions that Changed the World
  2. Attributes and Skills of Innovators
  3. Careers with Light and Sound

Note: Teachers could adjust all three of these lessons to focus only on either light or sound if their topic of study involves one but not the other. 

Materials & Preparation

  • Invention Visible Thinking Activity Reproducible (1 per pair or small group) [Google Slides] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy
  • Invention Interview Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Docs] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy

What To Do

Part 1: Innovations Around Us

  • Teachers could ask students: “What are some inventions that involve light and sound in our classroom/ in your home?”
  • Teachers could give students an example of an invention, such as a phone, to start the discussion. If students are struggling to come up with ideas, teachers could prompt them to look at different objects in the room. 
  • Students may list inventions such as light bulbs, computers, speakers, TVs, or intercom systems. 
  • Teachers could tell students that all of these devices were invented, many of them not very long ago. In this lesson, students will think about how these kinds of inventions change the world. 

Part 2: Visible Thinking Activity - Impacts of Inventions

  • Teachers could have students participate in a visible thinking routine, such as the Compass Points routine from Harvard University's Project Zero, to explore the impacts inventions involving sound and light have on people.
  • Teachers could share the Invention Visible Thinking Activity reproducible with students. Teachers could model answering the questions about the first invention, the telephone. Teachers could encourage students to imagine what the world was like when these objects were first invented. Teachers could ask students to share their thinking about the following four questions and record their thoughts.
    • What needs did this object meet?
    • What are some of the ways this object changed the world?
    • Why might people be excited about this object?
    • What impacts of this object might people worry about?
  • Students could work in pairs or small groups to complete the Invention Visible Thinking Activity reproducible
    • At Home: Teachers could create a copy of the Invention Visible Thinking Activity reproducible for each group to complete together. 
  • At School: Teachers could designate a table or area of the room for each invention. Students could travel around the room, recording their thoughts about each object on paper copies of the Invention Visible Thinking Activity reproducible.

Note: Teachers could modify the inventions that students are exploring based on their current topic of study. For example, classes studying sound may want to focus only on inventions involving sound such as speakers, microphones, and radios. 

  • Once students have completed the group activity, teachers could lead a reflection discussion using the following guiding questions. 
    • What do you think it was like to live before the _________ (one of the inventions students explored) was invented? How are our lives different now?
    • How did these inventions impact people and society?
    • What new realizations did you come to while completing this activity? 
    • Do you think these inventions had a positive or negative impact on our society? Why or why not?
    • What other inventions involving light and sound are you interested in learning about? 

Part 3: Interviews about Inventions

  • Teachers could tell students that they will now interview a friend or family member about how an invention involving light or sound impacted their life. Students should base their interview on the ideas they considered in Part 2. 
  • Before students complete their interviews, teachers should help them think about inventions that might be appropriate to interview someone about. Students should interview someone who remembers what it was like before and after the invention was used widely. Students may choose to interview an older family member or friend about the impact of cell phones, computers, or iPods on their lives. Students could also ask their interviewee to identify some devices that impacted their life. 
  • Students could complete their interviews and record notes on their Invention Interview reproducible. Students could use the questions that are already written on the first page and write their own questions on the second page to prepare for their interviews.
  • Teachers could give students an opportunity to share what they learned in their interviews with the class. 
  • Teachers could invite students to reflect using the following guiding questions. 
    • Did you learn anything that surprised you during this activity? 
    • Which of the inventions that we discussed do you think had the largest impact on people’s lives? Why? 
    • How have inventions involving light and sound changed the world?

Details

Assessment

  • Teachers could assess students’ ability to critically analyze inventions based on their responses to the Invention Visible Thinking Activity reproducible.
  • Teachers could assess students’ collaboration skills by observing their group work during the Invention Visible Thinking activity. 
  • Teachers could assess students’ ability to ask questions and learn new information from an interview based on their responses to the Invention Interview reproducible and reflections during the class discussion.

Assessment

  • Teachers could assess students’ ability to critically analyze inventions based on their responses to the Invention Visible Thinking Activity reproducible.
  • Teachers could assess students’ collaboration skills by observing their group work during the Invention Visible Thinking activity. 
  • Teachers could assess students’ ability to ask questions and learn new information from an interview based on their responses to the Invention Interview reproducible and reflections during the class discussion.

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