What Is Technology, and How Does It Benefit Us?
Students will learn:
- What technology is and the differences between science and technology.
- About the role of science and technology in society and that technology positively influences our quality of life by helping us learn, live safely, and stay healthy.
- That in benefiting from the conveniences technology offers, society must also recognize the responsibilities that come with technology.
- How to build a chart to compare the opportunities that technology provides.
- To organize and represent data they collect using a graph.
- Display board (such as a blackboard) and chalk or markers
- Student reproducible for this lesson (see link below)
- Begin by asking students what they know about technology, or if they know examples of technology. Jot all examples on the board. Students should understand that they know quite a bit about technology, by virtue of their daily experience with electronics (MP3s, TVs, computers, printers).
- When you have finished, write the definition of technology on the board:
Technology extends our abilities to change the world: to cut, shape, or put together materials; to move things from one place to another; and to reach farther with our hands, voices, and senses. . . . The changes may relate to survival needs such as food, shelter, or defense, or they may relate to human aspirations such as knowledge, art, or control. SOURCE: Science for All Americans online, www.project2061.org/publications/sfaa/online/chap3.htm
Ask students, "How do the examples of technology you gave allow people to shape or change the world?"
- Provide students with some key distinctions between the natures of science and technology. Explain that by definition, science is a process for producing knowledge. The process depends on both making careful observations of how the world works and making sense out of those observations. Make the point that technology draws on science, and also contributes to its progress. SOURCE: NSTA Education Standards, http://newton.nap.edu/html/nses/6b.html
- Explain to students that although technology presents many benefits to humanity, there may also be by-products or issues that arise through the process of manufacturing and the development of technology. Engage students in a discussion of these benefits, as well as the by-products or issues and how these issues are being or might be addressed. If your students don't include environmental challenges in their discussion, suggest the responsibility everyone has in controlling waste, and that recycling represents our effort to achieve that. Examples of how technology can enhance society might include: battery technology, solar power, satellites, text messaging, MP3s, gaming, plasma TVs, air and water testing, improved product designs.
- Mention to students that like anything, technology eventually wears out when people use it. When equipment becomes old or out of date, or performs at less than full capacity, people are challenged to figure out what to do with it.
- Make copies and distribute Activity 1, "Thinking About Technology: What Is It? How Can It Help us?" (PDF)
Be an Advocate!
Ask students, "What new technology is being developed in the realms of energy conservation, pollution prevention, and waste reduction? What are some of the products that utilize that technology? What are some of the ways you can adapt or make room for those technologies in your life?" Students may cite water, wind, or solar power; virtual businesses; biodiesel; air and water testing; etc. Product examples may include windmills (turbines) or solar panels, online banking, hybrid cars, etc.
Answers to Activity 1:
Part One: Space Shuttle, cell phones, vaccines, fingerprinting, the U.S. Postal Service, the use of robots. (Correct answers reflect the purpose of technology in meeting our needs and in making life easier. The remaining answers describe scientific endeavors, reflecting an emphasis on scientific observations and the study of how the world works.) Part Two: Benefits may include innovations or progress in space, computing, communication, medicine, forensics, automation, or robotics. By-products/issues may include impacts on the environment, ethical questions (such as freedom of speech), or others. Possible solutions may include different ways that issues or by-products are minimized. Part Three: Answers will vary. Example: Cell phone. Technology's Benefits: Keep in touch with family/friends/emergency responders easily. Technology's By-products/Issues: Electronic boards and colored plastic; reception not always available. Possible Solutions to By-products/Issues: Recycle responsibly; more antennas and satellites, or different technology.