According to one of my 7th graders (born in 2000) he didn't know the names of all of them, but dinosaur technology to him was "the stuff on the tables": a rotary phone, an 8-track tape deck, a movie projector, a record player, a filmstrip projector, a radio/cassette/CD player, and a typewriter.
Every day we encourage children to think about the future: where will they go to college, what do they want to be when they grow up, etc. As the media specialist formerly known as history teacher, I felt that in order to encourage my students to look forward, I needed them to see what was in the rear view mirror. Thus a lesson on "old" technology was born. Creating a Keynote or Prezi showing students a bunch of photographs of past technology didn't make me excited to share, so for the past year I've been collecting or finding someone to loan me items in order to create a hands-on experience.
The language arts teacher coming for the lesson divided her students into groups. After a brief discussion of the definition of technology we told our students to use their 21st century skills to answer questions about the 20th century technology at their station. The students were super excited to (in their words) "mess with" the technology and they did a fantastic job answering the questions posed about how their item operated, determining what was its 2012 counterpart, and contemplating why the technology evolved.
Some of my favorite moments?
- Four girls sitting at the rotary phone, determined to figure out how to text with it because it had letters
- The group of boys wondering aloud if they could play games on the movie projector.
- The clicking sound of multiple typewriters
- Seeing 12-year-olds absolutely hysterical while playing an LP at 78 RPMs to make Journey sound like the Chipmunks
- The confusion over how exactly one dials a rotary phone
- All the teachers who came in and marveled at the trip down memory lane
How do we excite children about technology? Make them visionaries. This year as we use computers and iPads and flip cameras I have charged my students with forming ideas about where these technologies will go next. They seem excited with the prospect.