Teaching science when you don’t know diddly-squat: Does technology make our lives easier?

While we all use technology every day, how do we know if it is making our lives easier?

Purpose

The purpose is not to teach specific content, but to teach the process of science – asking questions and discovering answers. This activity encourages young people to try to figure things out for themselves rather than just read an answer on the internet or in a book. As a leader, try not to express your opinion, but let the youth engage in arguments based on evidence.

Time required

20 minutes or multiple days depending on the interest and questions the youth have

Materials

  • Paper
  • Pencils

Science Practices

Asking questions and defining problems

Ask the youth: Does technology make our lives easier? Have the youth share their answers. Don’t share your ideas. After they have given answers, follow up with more questions. a. What is technology?

Planning and carrying out investigations

Ask the youth: While we all use technology every day, how do we know if it is making our lives easier? 3. Have the youth work in pairs. Hand out paper and pencils. Have them write on the far left side of the paper the heading “Technology.” Under it, have them list all the technology they think they use in an average day.

Asking questions and defining problems

At this point, the youth may realize that everyone has a slightly different definition of technology. You may need to help them determine the parameters for what will be considered technology for this investigation.

Planning and carrying out investigations

Next, have them make two columns beside the list title, one headed “Positive Impacts” and the other headed “Negative Impacts.” Ask each pair to fill in as many positive and negative impacts as they can.

Analyzing and interpreting data

Discuss as a group the negative and positive impacts the youth list. Are there more positives or negatives? Is each item on the list equal in benefit or disadvantage? Does one item on a list “balance out” another? How can you compare things that aren’t the same? Do you look at the time it saves (or wastes)?

Constructing explanations and designing solutions

After discussing, ask the youth again: Do you think technology makes our lives easier?

Engaging in argument from evidence

Have a discussion about why and how technology makes our lives easier or harder.

Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Have youth make a claim about technology by having then answer the question: Do you think technology makes your lives easier? Allow time for youth to justify their answers using the data they collected and to explain their thinking.

Other thoughts

  • Does technology make our lives better?
  • What factors did you use to define technology?
  • Do you think someone living in the Civil War time might have a different answer to this question?
  • How about ancient Roman times? Cave dweller times?
  • Has technology made us weaker by our reliance on it?

Science & Engineering Practices

These eight Science and Engineering Practices come from A Framework for K–12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012, p. 42). These research-based best practices for engaging youth in science are connected to in-school science standards that all children must meet.

  • Asking questions and defining problems
  • Developing and using models
  • Planning and carrying out investigation
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Reference

National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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