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Vol. 11 No. 2Technology and You –www.iteaconnect.org


Are Your Students Getting theElementary Advantage?ITEA offers standards-based resources that provide strategic ADVANTAGES for your elementary students.Invention, Innovation, and Inquiry(I3) Each unit has standards-basedcontent, suggested teaching approaches,and detailed learning activities.Five new units now available!Members: $12.50Kids Inventing Technology Series(KITS) These activities are directlylinked to recommended K-12 coursesand present a variety of contemporarymethods that infuse recent researchconcerning learning and teaching.Members: $15.00Technology Starters:A Standards-based GuideMembers: $24.50andModels for Introducing Technology:A Standards-based GuideMembers: $24.50These resources provide strategic directionsfor developing contemporary,standards-based beginning level unitsand thematic instruction.Give YOUR students the elementary advantage!Order today from ITEA by calling 703-860-2100 orvisiting www.iteaconnect.org.


EDITORIALtechnology and you: natureTechnology and You, our theme forthis volume, looks at Nature in thisissue. Humanity is surrounded bynatural marvels that we can barely explain orunderstand. We share our worldly universe withunique and sometimes bizarre creatures. Fromthe tool-using chimpanzees to the moundbuildingAfrican termite, they offer a lot for usto observe and learn. It is in those moments ofthoughtful recognition that we are amazed at theingenuity and elegance of nature.How much of what we have seen in natureinspired us to redesign and create artifactsthat mimic nature? Many of us are fortunateto live in areas where an unobstructed viewoffers majestic mountain ranges in the distance.The jagged peaks soar into the sky and aremonuments to the force of nature. So, too, is itwith building cities. The architecture of our timereflects our need to soar into the heavens increative ways. The landscape has been alteredto accommodate structures that reach as high as1,671 feet (or 509 meters) into the sky. Our needto be creative and build has allowed us to createurban mountainscapes—monuments to ourcreative genius! But how much of this innovationwas inspired by dam-making beavers or theindustrious honeycomb-building bee?The links between technology and nature areevident in many of the tools and systems we useon a daily basis. Is it possible that humans haveimproved on the designs that nature presentsto us? For instance, an important device used toinject medicine into our bodies is the hypodermicneedle. Where did the idea for this importanttechnology come from? What was the AH HA!moment that led a human to try to duplicate avery efficient injection system? I’d like to suggestthat somewhere and at some time, somebodystarted messing around with snakes. While thisis still a questionable practice, that someoneprobably got bitten and had venom introducedinto his or her body for the first time. While thedetails are sketchy, we can assume that pain fromthe bite and the poison made a significant impacton developing a list of things not to do again. Nodoubt the offending snake was taken to task—beaten like a drum until dead. Perhaps afterits demise, someone actually noticed that thefangs of the snake were hollow. It was probablynoticed how the snake struck its victim, too.Taking these two factors into account, the needto place medicine under the skin and into veinsof humans may have led to the development anduse of the hypodermic needle.Other notable “improvements” to nature mightinclude the transformation of the bird’s winginto the inspiration for the wing of a 767 and allof its predecessors. What about improving theworkings of our brains? Perhaps the best exampleof this is the development of the computer.Copying nature can be fun. The ubiquitouslight stick is actually a knock-off of the talentedfirefly or lightning bug. Imagine a summer nightwithout either one of these! Another example ofour attempts to mirror nature might be the useof windshield-wiper fluid. When the windscreenon our car gets dirty, we squirt fluid to clear upthe situation—not unlike the human eye creatingtears to remove offending substances from themembrane so that our vision can be clearer.And, what of the human body as a modelfor many of the machines that we have usedthroughout the ages? How many examples canyour students give to illustrate this? Here’s one:The human hip joint and your car’s ball joint areidentical.The use of natural resources to create materialsthat are stronger and more durable than naturalmaterials is also a testimonial to our innovation.Where wood once was the resource of choice,we have replaced it with any number of exoticmaterials that meet our production needs. Aslong as we have needs that must be satisfied,we will always turn to nature to find solutions,whether we do it knowingly or not.In this issue you will find thoughtful articlesand useful activities that will help you and yourstudents understand the relationship betweentechnology and nature. We hope you enjoymaking these connections in your classrooms.Charlie McLaughlin is the Field Editor forT&C. Charlie is the Chair of the Department ofEducational Studies at Rhode Island College and thecoordinator for the Technology Education program.He can be reached at cmclaughlin@ric.edu.Publisher, Kendall N. Starkweather, DTEEditor-in-Chief, Kathleen B. de la PazField Editor, Charlie McLaughlin, DTEEditor/Layout, Kathie F. CluffITEA Board of DirectorsKen Starkman, PresidentEthan Lipton, DTE, Past PresidentAndy Stephenson, President-ElectJohn Singer, Director, Region 1Lauren Withers Olson, Director, Region 2Julie Moore, Director, Region 3Richard (Rick) Rios, Director, Region 4Ed Denton, DTE, Director, ITEA-CSRodney Custer, DTE, Director, CTTEJoe Busby, DTE, Director, TECAVincent Childress, Director, TECCKendall N. Starkweather, DTE, Executive DirectorEditorial BoardCharlie McLaughlin, Chair, Rhode Island CollegeJared Berrett, Brigham Young UniversitySharon A. Brusic, Millersville UniversityVincent Childress, North Carolina A&T State Univ.Janis Churchill, McGaheysville Elementary SchoolPatrick N. Foster, Central Connecticut State Univ.Krista Jones, Bellevue Elementary SchoolCharles C. Linnell, Clemson UniversityGinger Whiting, Virginia Children’s Engineering CouncilTECC OfficersJared Berrett, PresidentSharon Brusic, Vice President-ProgramJanis Churchill, SecretaryWendy Ku, Treasureremail: kdelapaz@iteaconnect.orgwww.iteaconnect.orgTechnology and Children is published four timesa year (September, December, March, and May) bythe International Technology Education Association.Subscriptions are included in all group membership dues.Student members may choose Technology and Children aspart of their membership. Other ITEA members maysubscribe to the journal for $25.00 per year; $35.00outside the U.S. Library and nonmember subscriptionsare $35.00 per year; $45.00 outside the U.S. Singlecopies of back issues are available for $6.50 ($9.00 fornonmembers) plus shipping and handling. An electronicsubscription is avaliable for $20.00.Advertising SalesMaureen Wiley703-860-2100Subscription ClaimsAll subscription claims must be made within 60 days ofthe first day of the month appearing on the cover of thejournal. Because of repeated delivery problems outside thecontintental United States, journals will be shipped only atthe customer’s risk. ITEA will ship the subscription copy, butassumes no responsibility thereafter.Address ChangesSend address changes to:Technology and Children, Address ChangeITEA, 1914 Association Drive, Suite 201Reston, VA 20191-1539All contributions for review should be sent to:Charlie McLaughlin, Field EditorTechnology and ChildrenRhode Island CollegeTechnology Education Program, HBS Room 222600 Mt. Pleasant AvenueProvidence, RI 02908Telephone: 401-456-8793Email: cmclaughlin@ric.eduSubmission guidelines can be found at: www.iteaconnect.org/Publications/submissionguidelines.htm© 2006 by the International TechnologyEducation Association Technology and Children December 2006


Technology Education for Children CouncilMessage From the President of TECCtechnology for everyone – not just a fewAs an assistant professor at BrighamYoung University in the TechnologyTeacher Education program, I amnot required to spend time in the elementaryclassroom. In fact, I’ve been criticized in mytenure and promotion interviews for doingso. My students are not credentialed to teachGrades K-5. But still, every year we selectone of these grades, prepare lessons, and goteach in a nearby elementary school. In theState of Utah, technology and engineeringare not required curriculum in the primarygrades; they are only required in the seventhand eighth grades. So, why shouldanyone spend valuable time andeffort trying to get young childrenexcited about technology if there arefew professional rewards?First of all—the kids love it! Take alook at the second grader holdingthis rocket and now picture a wholeclassroom full of children much likeher—smiling, laughing, and makingmeaningful connections to their math,science, social studies, or languagearts curriculum. Many of you cancreate this mental image because youhave been there. You have experienced it.You have seen learning come to life througha real-life technological challenge or problemthat kids can solve. Now think of the 50million kids in the USA on whom we couldhave this same effect—this is why we’re here.This is why we need to continue pushingeven when the push back seems, at times,overwhelming.Another, perhaps equally important, reason tooffer technology in the elementary classroomis that we must! In a recently published articlefrom the American Society for EngineeringEducation magazine called the PRISM, severaldisturbing facts were confirmed. It is clearthat “engineering graduation and enrollmentrates at U.S. universities are not keepingup with the country’s increasing demandfor engineering talent.” In addition, thereis not nearly enough diversity in the field,specifically with regard to women, African-Americans, and Hispanics. In an article fromReaders Digest, titled “America’s Brain DrainCrisis,” the author points out the unnervingfact that though scientists and engineersmake up only 5% of our population in theU.S., they are responsible for 50% of ourGross Domestic Product. When you couplethis with the fact that only 6% of high schoolseniors identified engineering as the field ofstudy they were going to pursue (down from36% a decade ago), the statistics becomefrightening. Friedman, in his popular bookThe World is Flat, cautions us that we mustmake changes to retain our innovative edgefor economic and security reasons. I agree!So what’s the cause of this disconnect? Kidsat the elementary age love technology, butwe have a shortage of young adults pursuingthese areas as careers? Of course, there aremany factors, but as teachers we can makea big difference. During the past five yearsof working with local elementary schools invarious grades, I’ve noticed most teachersare not aware of the many opportunitiesby Jared Berrettteaching technology can bring. In my mostrecent experience, I spent several hoursconcluding a unit on rocketry in a secondgrade classroom. As we concluded ourmulti-week endeavor, the teacher spent sometime talking to us about her experience. Shenever thought about technology as potentialsubject matter until I approached her andinquired about a teaching partnership. Nowshe reports she is constantly reviewing hercurriculum in her mind to see if she couldmake it more fun and meaningfulthrough technology. She couldn’tstop talking about how her studentshad amazed her with extremely highlevels of engagement, retention ofinformation, and motivation.It is my hope that teachers across thenation will begin looking for moreopportunities to share the joyfulexperience of teaching kids abouttechnology. We need to take a morepositive and active role as educatorsto encourage our kids—especiallyminorities and girls—to go intoscience, technology, engineering, and math(STEM) fields.references:Grose, T. K. (October, 2006). Trouble on theHorizon. PRISM, 16(2), 26-31.Wallace, K. (December, 2005). America’s BrainDrain Crisis. Readers Digest, 109-115.Friedman, T. L. (2005). The World is Flat.Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY.Jared Berrett is an assistant professor atBrigham Young University in the TechnologyTeacher Education program. He enjoyshelping teachers at all grade levels exploregood teaching practice and is passionateabout helping kids live up to their potential.He can be reached at jared_berrett@byu.edu.Message From the President of TECC


ACTIVITYexploring the effects of nature:a look at erosionby Janis ChurchillThe effects of nature are all aroundus. Wind and water can causeproblems and damage to plant life,habitats, and the soil. Animals are affectedas their habitats are changed. Erosioncan cause problems for humans as well.Homes can be ruined as rain and windcause mudslides, rockslides, and evenavalanches. Planting trees and plants helpsto combat the effects of erosion. Roots helpto keep the soil in place, anchoring it sothat the wind and water cannot move thesoil.design challengeStudent teams will create and construct“erosion prevention machines.”ITEA-STL Standards* STL-1 A, C, D* STL-2 A, H* STL-5 A, B, C* STL-8 A, B, C* STL-9 A, B, C, D, E* STL-11 A, B, C, D, Fteacher preparationThe following sites can be utilized foryou and your students to gain a betterunderstanding of erosion. Some of thesehave excellent pictures that show erosionand weathering.••••www.geography4kids.com/files/land_erosion.htmlhttp://teacher.scholastic.com/dirtrep/erosionwww.brainpop.com/sciencewww.lessonplanspage.com/scienceThere were many sites that had productsto control erosion on them. Most of thesetechnologies were tubing, “blankets,” ormats. We looked at these sites togetheras a class and discussed how preventingerosion is a very important job. Here arejust two of many sites that contained thesetypes of products:••www.ectc.org/www.armortec.com/Grade Level: Second grade and upTime: One 30-minute session fordiscussion – Two 60-minute sessions fordesigning, constructing, and sharingactivity proceduresDay One:(30-minute discussion)The activity started with a PowerPointpresentation on our interactive whiteboard about erosion. Students watchedhow, over a period of 100 years, a hugeboulder on a beach literally disappeared.They also saw the effects of erosion onhomes, animals, and humans. Studentswere asked near the end of the slide showwhat could be done to prevent erosion.After many responses such as “build walls,”“dig holes,” and “put fences up,” etc., wetalked about the importance of plants androots. The students were shown picturesof many different plants and trees andthe massive root systems that they have.Then we visited the Scholastic websitewith “Dirtmeister’s Science Reporters”and talked about erosion and weatheringtogether. Technology and Children December 2006


ACTIVITYDay Two:(60-minute design and building)The design challenge was introduced bytelling the students that they would beworking in groups of three to design andbuild an “erosion-prevention machine.” Inthe design brief, students were told thatthere were specific criteria for the design.1. They needed to have a place wherewater could enter. They also neededto either have a place for waterstorage or for runoff.. They would be responsible forcoming up with a creative name fortheir machine.. They would be required to write aparagraph with at least six sentencesdescribing their machine, thematerials used to build it, and howit could be utilized in controllingerosion.The students were also told that we wouldbe using recyclable materials for the“machines.” We got into a discussion abouthow water would soak through cardboard,and then the “machine” wouldn’t workanymore. I assured the students that wewere not going to test these machinesoutside in the weather, but that led to agreat discussion on what types of materialsthey would need if we were testing themthere. We explored the websites witherosion-control products on them to seethe different types of materials that areused to prevent erosion. When askedabout the basic design of the machine,many students kept saying that theyneeded “roots” to soak up the water. Thefirst sketches reflected this way of thinking.Teams had to work together to presenteach of their ideas and decide which onesto incorporate into the final design.After they finished the machines, somegroups had to go back and add to or deletefrom the original design. Then they workedon their paragraphs together. Wheneveryone finished and the presentationsbegan, it was very interesting to hear themshare what worked and what didn’t workin the design process.evaluationStudents were evaluated on:•••••The design sketches and notes.How they worked together as a group.The paragraph describing theirmachine.Their oral presentation.The quality of the finished product.extensionYou could incorporate math andeconomics into the activity by giving thestudents a budget of $5.00 and puttingprices on the materials.Creative writing activities could include:1. Writing a letter to area farmers orbusiness owners telling about theimportance of the machines.. Writing a creative story about erosionand how it affects animals andhumans.Science and Graphing: For one weekkeep a log of examples of erosion you seearound your house. Bring these in andshare with the class. Make a class graph ofthe most common areas where erosion isfound.Day Three:(60-minute building and sharing)Students worked together to construct amachine based on their design sketches.Janis Churchill is a second gradeteacher at McGaheysville Elementary School,McGaheysville, Virginia. She can be reachedvia email at jchurchill@rockingham.k12.va.us.Exploring the Effects of Nature


RESOURCEScompliments of mother natureThis month’s Resources columnis designed to take classroomteachers and students on ascavenger hunt for nature’s contributionsto technological evolution. You will haveto be creative this month, as many of theresources will come from ventures intothe “wilds” of your locale. Throughoutthis process you will be addressingtechnological literacy standards asdescribed in Standards for TechnologicalLiteracy: Content for the Study ofTechnology (STL) (ITEA 2000/2002),especially STL 5: Students will develop anunderstanding of the effects of technologyon the environment.nature’s resourcesTechnology has evolved rapidly andchanged people’s lives so that, in mostsocieties, clothes are purchased fromstores and no longer made by hand. Toolsare thought to come from places such asSears, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Often thethought of making such items crosses theminds of only the very creative. Modes oftransportation are becoming more readilyavailable and diverse, so that the thought ofcreating one’s own means of transportationis virtually nonexistent.What would happen if you were to stepback in time and find ways to live offthe land? Could you survive? In order totest the skills of your students, I suggestgoing on a nature scavenger hunt to testtheir ability to make use of what natureprovides. Student creativity will drive thisactivity, with more innovations comingabout than this column could possibly list.Let’s take a look at just a sample ofpossibilities that abound from MotherNature as we move back in time prior tothe Industrial Revolution. Early settlers ofthat time were always searching for naturalmaterials to tend to their gardens and fixtheir homes. Others were in need oftools and utensils, too. An obviousplace to look for materials was in thewoods or a nearby stand of trees.They often found handy alternativesin nature, some not so easily available.Big game animalsshed antlers everyyear; whitetail deer,elk, and mooseoffered severalpossibilities forunique tools.Every year thousandsof outdoor enthusiastsset out in the spring tofind “wintering yards”of deer and elk. Theseareas, close to foodby Doug Walrathsources and often in south-facing hillsides,are great places to find big game animals’antlers that are shed annually. If you findthese treasures, you can use them to fosterstudent inquiry and excitement abouthow antlers could be used for activitiesbeyond raking leaves, tilling the garden, orshoveling snow.With winter arriving in northern latitudes,those living by river bottoms might findit fun to make a pair of snowshoes out ofwillow branches lashed with a few strips ofleather. For those with access to a tannery,a quick inquiry could provide free scrapsthat could be fashioned into boot strings,moccasins, snowshoe tie-downs, or evenfor decorative art in the classroom orAbove: Leather moccasinsBelow: Leather artworkLook closely and you can see the antlers that were shed in these woods. Technology and Children December 2006Resources


RESOURCESaround the house. Students may be curiousas to how these leather strips are made orhow the tanning process is completed.As you explore nature, keep an eye peeledfor other impacts of technology on theenvironment. Those who are exploringareas that lumberjacks have frequentedmay find excellent teaching aides intree-stump slices cut with chainsaws.Fresh-cut trees provide clues in the formof annual growth rings. While students areworking on their counting skills to date theage of the tree, you can also have theminvestigate drought cycles and wet yearsidentified by the gaps between each ring.departments of naturalresourcesMany people living in urban areas maynot have the opportunity or easy access todiscover natural materials in the examplesabove. If so, there’s no need to worry,as each state has a department of fishand game or natural resources. Visit thefollowing website to find what your statehas available: www.lib.washington.edu/fish/fandg/fandglist.html. ThisURL identifies a site for each of the 50states. Many states have a link to educationfrom the homepage, with ample resourcesfor the classroom. Can’t find somethingin your state? Check out other nearbystates. Wisconsin seems to be a state withmany educational resources. As you scrollthrough the states, ideas of interest fromone state or another are sure to match yourinterests.book/DVD resourceFor those in search of a resource toinvestigate impacts of technology withoutthe scavenger hunt excitement, here is anexcellent resource. The DVD, Alone in theWilderness, has played on over 100 PBSnetworks around the country. It was oneof the most requested videos a few yearsago. This is the story of a man who movesto the wilderness of Alaska and builds hisown home and fashions his own livingnecessities from nature’s materials. Simplehand tools are used to create everythingneeded to live off the land. You can findsome of these same hand tools in someof the older high school industrial artsprograms. Ask a veteran “shop” teacherfor a hand plane, and your students canprepare small logs for a cabin just as theAlaskanexplorer,RichardProenneke,did. TheDVD, Alonein theWilderness,is availablefor $21.95from the following site: www.alaskanha.org/_details.cfm?ProdID=969.Upper elementary students may enjoyreading the entire story of this Alaskanadventure. As yourstudents step backin time, they will beexposed to manycreative means ofmerging naturewith technology.Perhaps they willwant to explore similar creative ideas suchas door hinges fashioned from wood,caribou antler or plaster of paris wolf trackdecorations, and log furniture creations.The book, One Man’s Wilderness: AnAlaskan Odyssey, is available for $14.95,also from www.alaskanha.org/_details.cfm?ProdID=969.Regardless of where you live and whatnature provides, outside your classroomwalls awaits nature’s laboratory. Whetherit’s a scavenger hunt or some other creativemeans, student inquiry will drive suchlessons. Take the time this year to bringnature into your classroom, or better yetbring your classroom to nature.Doug Walrath is a graduate student atUtah State University, studying Engineeringand Technology Education. He can bereached via email at walrathd@comcast.net.Compliments of Mother Nature


ARTICLEnature: the mother of all engineersCan inspiration come from acockroach? While most oftenviewed as having few redeemingqualities, this highly successful species hasspawned the creation of more than justRaid® and Roach Motels® (and additionalroaches). On the contrary, roboticsresearchers at universities, including JohnsHopkins and the University of California-Berkeley, have capitalized on the successof this small creature by outfitting theirmechanical inventions with six jointed legsthat can move rapidly over varied terrain,and antennae that allow for navigationthrough dark environments (Clark, et al,2001). Similar roach-like robots are beingstudied by scientists at NASA, who envisionpotential for these cyber-bugs in theexploration of Mars (Hoversten, 2000).Learning from nature is nothing new,however. While not as ancient as thecockroach, biologically inspired design, or“biomimicry,” (Reed, 2004) has been withus for a period of time.Many of the best known examples ofbiomimicry—the inventor of Velcrorealizing the potential use of burrs hepulled from his dog’s hair, for example—are recent instances of innovations thathave improved our quality of life. We can’tbe sure whether these were intentionalor unintentional cases of biomimicry,but many ancient technologies clearlyScientists are using roaches to debug their designs.mimic natural forms. Take sailboats asan example. They have been in use forcommercial purposes for more than5,000 years. Did an ancient boatmakerdiscover by accident that an egg-shapedhull was more effective, or did an astuteobserver notice the shape of fish andtry to replicate it? And what might haveinspired the notion or the design of thefirst sail? A leaf in the wind, perhaps? Ora soaring bird?In other cases, people have arrivedat the “natural” solution to a dilemmaonly after trying other alternatives. Forexample, we have the innate sensethat recycling is preferable to waste.In western countries, we continuallyproduce more and more garbage. Yet weare slowly approaching a consensus on thevalue of recycling. Consider the followinglist of similarities between technologiesand natural processes.technologybuilding a houseputting on a coatwhen it’s coldcatching fish witha netthrowing garbagein a dumpnaturebirds building anestgrowing thickerfur, more fat(mammals)spider catching flieswith a web???What is the natural equivalent toa garbage dump? For that matter,what is the natural equivalent ofgarbage? Nature seems to offer fewinsights into how we can betterdesign and use landfills, but thisis probably because in nature,waste materials are usually recycled.by Michele Dischino andPatrick N. FosterWas the first sailboat inspired by a bird in flight?It should also be mentioned that whilenatural materials often seem insufficient forhigh-tech applications, synthetic materialsare often toxic to use or to make, and areusually slow to degrade.You might extend the prior list by askingstudents how people have responded tocertain wants and needs:humanwantto seefarawaythingsto climb amountainquicklyportableshelterwhere innature?eagles’eyesightmountaingoathermitcrab;tortoisetechnologytelescope,spyglass,binoculars, etc.trails; stairstent; umbrellaOlder students could discuss the likelihoodof each of these examples being intentionalmimicry. It’s entirely possible that the first Technology and Children December 2006


ARTICLEtent or umbrella was inspired by a tortoise.On the other hand, it seems unlikely thatthe design of the telescope, invented about400 years ago, was based on the mechanicsof birds’ eyes. In fact, only recently haveengineers and scientists begun to studynature with the intent of mimicking it.Unlike their predecessors, today’sscientists benefit from the recent and rapidexpansion of technical knowledge, whichhas accelerated the pace of progress.Increasingly, technology is used to imitatenature. For example, modern applicationsof echo location, which include sonarand ultrasound, were inspired by thenavigational behavior of bats. Morerecently, a living creature has given rise toa concept car that, like many land dwellers,had its beginnings in the sea. Looking tothe ocean for ideas, researchers from theDaimler Chrylser Research Department andMercedes-Benz Technology Centre turnedto the boxfish (Bartol, 2003). While notobvious from its appearance, this fish isremarkably streamlined—a highly desirablecharacteristic for any automobile. Its rigidskin consists of numerous hexagonal, bonyplates, providing maximum protectionfrom injury with minimal weight, anotherkey selling point for any driver concernedwith safety and fuel consumption. Thecombined efforts of the team resulted in aninnovative and attractive automobile designthat performed impressively on industrytests.Another “natural” fit for biologicallyinspired design is in the field of medicine.For instance, advancements in materialscience and engineering have led tothe design of artificial heart valves andorthopedic joint replacements, both ofwhich are now used routinely and providea vast improvement in both the length andquality of life for their recipients. On alarger scale, the loss of an entire limb hasdevastated countless victims throughoutthe ages, and the earliest remedies offeredlittle more than a wooden peg to replacelost function. But those days, thankfully,are behind us, as researchers have nowdesigned artificial limbs that not onlyreplicate natural arm movements, but canactually connect body and mind, allowingpatients to control their prosthetic armswith their thoughts just as they would areal limb. This is particularly relevant inour society today; as of September 2006,some 411 U.S. troops in Iraq and 37 inAfghanistan had wounds that cost themat least one limb, according to the ArmyMedical Command (Poover, 2006).Biomimicry is likely to become morecommonplace as today’s elementarystudents become tomorrow’s decisionmakers. With newer technologicaladvances, we’re able to not just imitate, butreproduce the identical biological materialspeople need. Cochlear implants are apromising development for the deaf, andcurrent retina researchers aim to overcomeblindness.Finding examples of biomimicry may alsohelp children see the interrelationshipIs it possible that the first tent or umbrellawas modeled on a tortoise?between the natural and technologicalworlds. Indeed, as Janine Benyus notes,biomimicry is a new way of looking atnature, a viewpoint “based not on what wecan extract from the natural world, but onwhat we can learn from it.” (1997, p. ii.)for more informationBiomimicry: www.biomimicry.netPBS/Scientific American: www.pbs.org/saf/1209/Discovery Channel: http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/therealbionicman/referencesBartol, Ian (2003). Boxy swimmers.Science, 299(5608), 817.Benyus, J. M. (1997/2002). Biomimicry:Innovation inspired by nature.London: Harper Perennial.Clark, J. E., Cham, J. G., Bailey, S. A.,Froehlich, E. M., Nahata, P. K., Full,R. J., & Cutkosky, M. R. (2001).Biomimetic design and fabricationof a hexapedal running robot. IEEEInternational Conference on Roboticsand Automation.Hoversten, P. (2000). New ideas for spaceexploration robots unveiled by NIAC.Space.com News, June 7, 2000.Poovey, B. (2006). Man’s bionic armprovides hope for soldier amputees.Associated Press, September 14, 2006.Reed, P. A. (2004). A paradigm shift:Biomimicry. The Technology Teacher,63(4), 23-27.Michele Dischino teaches at CentralConnecticut State University. She can bereached via email at dischinomic@ccsu.edu.Patrick N. Foster teaches at CentralConnecticut State University. His emailaddress is fosterp@ccsu.edu.Nature: The Mother of All Engnieers


BOOKS to BRIEFSjungle survivorBookO’Dell, S. (2005, 1960). Island of the blue dolphins.Chicago: Thorndike Press.[223 Pages; ISBN: 0-7862-7254-6]by Keith Bankssummary of bookstudent introductionteacher hints:Karana and her people live peacefullyon an island off the California coast.One day, her father, the chief of thetribe, allows strangers to hunt on theirisland. However, the hunters turn onthe chief, killing him and attackinghis tribe. Karana and the new chiefdecide to lead the remainder of theirpeople to a new island where theyhope to establish a safer home. Whileboarding the ship that will take thetribe to a new island, Karana’s brother,Ramo, runs off to fetch his spear andis left behind. Karana knows that ifshe leaves the ship it may not comeback for them for many moons.After very little thought, she decidesto abandon the ship to be with herbrother. Now Karana and Ramo are onthe island alone with few resources.This Newberry Award-winningbook inspires the reader with manyexamples of challenges that had to beovercome, and the reward of a strongsibling bond.Keith Banks recently earned his K-12 teaching certification in technologyeducation. He is a teacher at Penn HillsHigh School, Pittsburgh, PA. He can bereached at kbanks@phsd.k12.pa.us.Many of the resources the tribe usedto survive have been either taken ordestroyed. Therefore, Karana and Ramohave very little to help them survive onthis island alone. Both are great huntergatherers,so they will be able to adaptand survive. But it will be difficult. Sincescavengers have ravaged the island, thereare limited resources that can be used. Canyou help Karana and Ramo survive thenext few moons using only the resourcesthat are available?design briefSuggested Grade Level: 4-5Karana and Ramo have a spear with whichto hunt and fish. But, they will need morethan that to survive the next few moons.Using the materials provided and workingin small teams, your class will designsolutions to many of the problems Karanaand Ramo will face while they remain onthe island.1...As a class, create a list of all theproblems Karana and Ramo mightface based on their situation. Theproblems should be consistent withthe story. For example, Karana andRamo will need utensils to cook theirfood. How can Karana and Ramoretrieve the pots she dropped in theocean? When it is time to meet theship at the shore, how can Karanaand Ramo safely transport all of theirgoods through the jungle?Create small groups of 2-3 studentseach. Define and discuss key conceptsof technological problem solving.Then have each group identify andsolve one of the problems faced byKarana and Ramo. Each group mustuse the provided materials to create asolution.Point out that Karana and Ramoare limited to natural resources forcreating the things they want andneed. Help students to differentiatebetween natural and human-madematerials in their environment. Set outa wide assortment of materialsand have students classifythem. Include natural thingslike twigs, stones, dirt, berries,and vines. Also includehuman-made products such aslumber scraps, bricks, string,paint, etc.. Provide each group withmaterials that may be foundin a jungle. For example,Continued on page 1210 Technology and Children December 2006


when the wind blowsBOOKS to BRIEFSBookEts, M.H. (1978). Gilberto and the wind.NY: Puffin Books.[28 pages; ISBN 0-14-050276-9]by Terri Varnadostudent introductionNo matter what he did, Gilberto couldnot control the wind. Sometimes whenhe wanted to play, Wind decided to bedifferent! This just goes to show thatpeople cannot know for sure how andwhen the wind will blow and what effectsit will have when it does. Sometimes agentle breeze helps us to feel cool in thesummer heat, but other times the wind canbe very damaging. For example, windsduring hurricanes and tornadoes are verydangerous.Through the use of technology, we learnto satisfy our needs and wants. We usetechnology—like windmills and turbines—to help us capture the wind and do usefulthings. Kites, pinwheels, and sailboats aresome ways that we have fun when thewind blows.design briefSuggested Grade Level: K-2Make a new wind toy for Gilberto. Makesure your design:• Isn’t too heavy for the wind to moveit around.••••Allows the wind to pass through so itdoesn’t break.Doesn’t fly away like leaves.Will not fall down when the windstops blowing.Is fun to watch when the wind blows.teacher hints1...Create a design portfolio that includesworksheets and journal pages for thestudents to record what they are doingas they solve this problem. Have themsketch their ideas and reflect on whatthey have learned. Create a cover pageillustrating the wind theme. Developone worksheet on which students canwrite the problem, one on which theycan draw, another for them to list thematerials they used or to describe thecharacteristics of their design, oneto list the steps they went throughto create their design, and anotherto write a few wind facts that theylearned throughout the process.Using books, magazines, and/orthe Internet, have students conductresearch on wind. On their journalpages, students should describe thecharacteristics of wind and write downsome facts about wind.Discuss how technology can helppeople use wind to satisfy humanneeds and wants. In what ways doesthe wind create problems for peopleand the environment? This discussioncould be a great lead-in for an energyand power unit. Older students couldcreate a PowerPoint presentation orscreen saver using pictures of windtechnologies they find on the Internet.summary of bookGilberto loves to play with Wind.In this Picture Puffin book, a littleboy discovers that Wind has manydifferent moods and emotions. Windcan float balloons, turn umbrellasinside out, and swing gates open andclosed; that is until Gilberto wantsto take a ride. Gilberto finds all sortsof toys to play with Wind—a kite, apinwheel, and soap bubbles. He eventakes a nap when Wind decides to goto sleep!Terri Varnado is Assistant Professorof Technology Education at NorthCarolina State University. She can bereached terri_varnado@ncsu.edu.Books to Briefs11


BOOKS to BRIEFS4.To expand on this idea, students couldcreate a concept map of the effects ofwind on nature.Getting started: Working withpartners or in groups of three, havestudents brainstorm ideas aboutprojects that will meet the constraintslisted in the design brief. Thenstudents can sketch their ideas intheir design portfolios and pickthe best one. To evaluate students’understanding of the concept of wind,have them draw a picture of theirproject blowing in the wind. Then5.6.have them draw a picture of whathappens to their project when thewind stops blowing.Projects students design and createmight resemble breeze catchers,whirligigs, streamers, wind socks,etc. Wouldn’t it be great if a fewstudents design something completelydifferent? To put a special twist onthings, their final product couldspin or twirl. Encourage students todecorate their projects using themesof nature.Have lots of materials on hand forstudents to construct this wind toy,such as flexible paper plates, stringor yarn, newspaper, constructionpaper, long paper bags, plasticbags, foil, fabric, crepe paper, paperreinforcement rings, and swivels.(Note: Swivels are small devicesor fasteners that allow kites andwindsocks to spin without the stringgetting tangled. You can buy themin packages of 12 for about a dollar7.8.in the craft or fishing section of adiscount store.) Students will alsoneed assorted tools and fasteners suchas scissors, stapler, markers, pencils,hole punch, glue, and tape.Have students share with the classwhy they chose their design ideas.Ask them to predict how the projectwill work once it’s finished. To testtheir solutions and see how closethey were to their predictions, allowstudents to set up their projectsaround the classroom. Bring a smalloscillating fan or a box fan, turn iton, and watch what happens whenthe wind blows! Wouldn’t it be fun toplace students’ projects around theschool for everyone to see?This design brief is a wonderfulmultidisciplinary opportunity. Youmay want to make connectionswith social studies, language arts,careers, and of course, STEM (science,technology, engineering, andmathematics).Jungle Survivor continued from page 10wooden coffee stirrers or craft stickscan represent wood from trees. Glueor paste can represent mud or sap.String or yarn can represent vines,and red paint can take the place ofcrushed berries. Remind the studentsthat they have limited resources.Therefore, they must be carefulwith how much they use to solvetheir problem. Encourage students’5.6.creativity in finding appropriatemodeling materials to representmaterials found in nature.Allow each group to discuss whythey chose the design and havethem demonstrate to the class howtheir solution works. This will givethe students valuable experiencespeaking in front of their peers. Aftereach group presents, discuss whetherthe solution is realistic and practical.Were resources conserved? Is thisan elegant solution to the problem?Does the solution have any negativeenvironmental impacts?This design challenge is a great wayto address many of the standardsand benchmarks from Standardsfor Technological Literacy: Contentfor the Study of Technology (ITEA,2000/2002). Take a close look atStandard 7, Benchmark B (p. 81),which addresses the concept thatpeople make tools to providefood, make clothing, and protectthemselves. Also, Standard 1,Benchmark C (p. 25) addresses naturalversus human-made materials andproducts, a key focus of this designchallenge.referenceInternational Technology EducationAssociation (2000/2002). Standardsfor technological literacy: Contentfor the study of technology. Reston,VA: Author.12 Technology and Children December 2006


WEB LINKStechnology and you: natureTechnology is all around us. Oneof the first things we try to teachchildren is the difference betweennatural and human-made objects. We usetechnology to create better situations forourselves. Where did the first humans getmany of their inspirations for better waysto use materials and tools to survive?Go to Yahooligans for an Internet search.(Ooh!, Ooh!, there’s one...Was the WorldWide Web inspired by a spider web?) Typekeywords like “tunnels” or “bridges” in thesearch box, press Go, and you are on yourway.The site called Building Big is createdand supported by PBS. Learn aboutmany different types of big structuresand do activities online to enhance yourstudents’ learning. www.pbs.org/wgbh/buildingbig/Do your students know that plastic wasfirst made from natural materials? Trythis website, called “Teaching Tools”and sponsored by Conoco Phillips, forthe history of plastic. There are manyinteresting feature stories about how verypopular items, like the Slinky, came tobe. Click on Slinky Science and performsome cool experiments with the Slinkyand discover the nature of physical forcesat work in a Slinky toy. Learn aboutengineers who design and build much ofthe technology that dramatically changesour environment. www.teachingtools.com/Slinky/plastics.htmlVelcro: A man and his dog inspired thisinvention. We may lose the art of tying ourshoes because of Velcro. First look at anelectron microscope’s view of it (www.mos.org/sln/sem/velcro.html). Find thestory of its invention at http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa091297.htm.Use modern tools to unearth, prepare fortransport, and reconstruct a dinosaur fromthe National Museum of Natural Historyin this interactive fossil dig. www.nmnh.si.edu/paleo/dinosaurs/interactives/dig/main.htmlAs a follow-up to digging for dinosaurs,check out this site from the San DiegoNatural History Museum. www.sdnhm.org/kids/dinosaur/I can’t leave out a site from NASA.The connection to our topic is usingthe technology of the electromagneticspectrum to follow living creatures andthe study of the earth. This website is aninteractive activity for elementary students.Students follow Echo the Bat at the sametime they are learning about satellites,biodiversity, and remote sensing. http://imagers.gsfc.nasa.gov/Take a trip “Down Under” and havean interactive adventure catching crabsand making fire with two members ofthe Burarra people of Australia. http://burarra.questacon.edu.au/home.htmlLet’s get patriotic with a famousAmerican inventor, Ben Franklin.Start on this page to chose fromseveral of Franklin’s experiments.The topics are How Shocking, Ben’sTown, Worldly Ways, Virtue Quiz,and Make a Kite. Its interactiveformat requires Flash Player butby Christine Nelsongives you a link to download a free versionif you don’t have it. www.pbs.org/benfranklin/explore.htmlThe Technology At Home website lets youchoose an item from your home, and thengo back in time to find out when it came tobe used in the home. Have your studentstry to think about what changes peoplemade in the way they interacted with theirenvironments before and after the newtechnology became available for commonpeople. This website is also sponsored byPBS and needs Shockwave to work. www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/tryit/tech/The National Geographic Society is stillproducing great articles about this worldin which we live. The organization’snews website has many articles thatcould be used to have students practicereading for specific information as wellas learning about their world. You’ll findhigh interest reading here. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/Here’s a sample article relating to theearth and global warming. Becauseof a new discovery, coal can be usedas a clean-emissions fuel. http://VelcroPhoto courtesy of K.R. RobertsonWeb Links13


WEB LINKSRemember to keep searching the WWW.Don’t be afraid to click on the link at thebottom of each entry for more sites. Havefun searching and be safe.Christine Nelson is an elementarytechnology education teacher at HaileyElementary School in Hailey, ID. She can bereached via email at cnelson@blaineschools.org.news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/05/0502_060502_coal.htmlAlso on this page, see how technologyhas helped to determine that a recentlydiscovered bird is really a new species.If you don’t want to read the article,they used photography and DNA testingto verify the news. I liked this one:studying rats’ whiskers to make roboticexplorers more productive. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/10/061004-robot-whiskers.htmlCatch the Excitement!COMPUTERS • PROJECT PARTS • PROJECT MATERIALS • SCIENCE • ELECTRONICS • BOOKS • SOFTWAREMODULAR LABS • CURRICULUM • FURNITURE • VIDEOS • CAREERS K-12®www..comWatch a MaglevEDUCATION •Float on a Track withSee-Through SidesMaglev Track8 ft. long, clear-sided Maglev Track isideal for young students to view magnetic levitation of the car in the track. Studentsmeasure the height of the maglev’s elevation as they add more weight (passengers).TECHNOLOGY •The maglev car can be designed to be powered by a sail & box fan, propeller& rubberband, or by using an on-board battery.Complete Maglev Section Online at www.kelvin.comStandardVersionTRANSPORTATION •Cuts Foam& PlasticSodaENERGY &Bottles!IndustrialVersionStyroDesigner The best tool for shaping foam products such as foam boards & blanks!POWER •Features 3 levels for heat control and a tilting arm that cuts foam at angles.LARGE SELECTION FOR A LOW PRICE!ROBOTICS •SolarRacer Balsa CuttersGearsSolar Cells Toy MotorsPulleysBridgesPropellers MagnetsMANUFACTURINGCOMMUNICATIONS • DESIGN • MODELING • STRUCTURES14 Technology and Children December 2006


The Space Placea very special spaceshipThe gleaming spaceship from Earth cruises out of the solar system toward the nearest star. It carries 12 astronautsand everything they will need for the many years it will take to reach their destination.This space voyage has not happened yet. But NASA scientists already can design a closed space with everything tosupport life for a long time.They know that plants use carbon dioxide from the air and give off oxygen, while animals use oxygen from the airand give off carbon dioxide. How convenient! The trick is to balance them. Too many of one—plants or animals—and not enough of the other, and both will get sick and die.And what about food? And taking out the garbage? A closed space that supports life needs a food chain. Animportant link in the chain is bacteria that live on waste. Tiny animals live on the bacteria. Larger animals eat thesmaller animals. Plants are necessary too, feeding animals both large and small. And, looping back to the bacteria,plants use the waste products of the bacteria.And water? Plants and animals need water. But there must be a way to clean the water for reuse, or it could make theplants and animals sick.Earth itself works like a space cruiser carrying astronauts. As on a space cruiser, Earth’s living environment canbecome unbalanced. We need to understand it and take good care of it, so it will support all its “astronauts” for thevery long journey ahead.Visit The Space Place at spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/earth/wordfind to learn more about spaceship Earth andhave fun with word puzzles about air, water, land, and life.This article was written by Diane K.Fisher and provided by the Jet PropulsionLaboratory, California Institute of Technology,under a contract with the NationalAeronautics and Space Administration.Image courtesy of NASA.The view of Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 astronauts on their wayto the Moon in December 1972.


QUICK ACTIVITYthe seed journeyintroductionBiotechnology is one of the oldest humanactivities. From the time communitiesbegan to settle in one place, cultivatecrops, and farm the land, humans havemanipulated the genetic nature of theircrops. Biotechnology has offered thepotential to enhance the quality of life interms of health, safety, the environment,and social and economic advancement.Biotechnology helps farmers meet our foodproduction needs as well as the demandfor products. We all know that research isneeded to bring crops to the marketplace,but equally important is the need toprovide educational opportunities to learnabout emerging technologies.This is a hands-on activity designed togive students in first grade a whole unitexperience in biotechnology. The use ofthis activity puts into practice the inquirybasedapproach and meets many NationalEducation Standards for all disciplines. Theunit follows a simple format to allow forflexibility and efficiency. The seed journeygives students ownership of their crops.Students plant the seeds and record thechanges and therefore make the connectionbetween the seeds and the plants.Planting TableSeedKidney BeanPeaSunflowerPumpkinGerminationtime4-85-105-105-10PlantingDepth1 inch1 inch½ inch1 inchThe students learn that the purpose of allseeds is reproduction. They also discoverthat one plant can produce many otherplants:1....5.6.7.8.The plant produces its seed.The seed is dropped from a plant(by the wind, or carried away by ananimal).The seed ends up on soil.The seed takes up water.One part of the seed, the embryo,begins to get energy from soil, sun,and water.The embryo begins to grow a smallroot downward to find moisture.A shoot begins to grow upwards insearch of light and air.The seed leaves, called thecotyledons, emerge.guidelines1.A plant needs water to carry nutrientsfrom the soil to theroots as well asfor the process ofphotosynthesis. It isimportant that thestudents learn not toover- or underwaterthe plants—only towater when the plantneeds it, not using a setschedule....by John ArangoLight and temperature are importantfactors. While light is not necessaryfor seed germination, temperature isimportant. Most seeds will germinateat room temperature—about 60 O to70 O .The planting table must be coveredwith plastic—or have the studentsbuild a greenhouse made with a woodframe and translucent plastic panels togive the plants insulation.Prop the young plants with sticks tosupport them while growing.For each student1....5.6.Space in the class-made greenhouseSeeds of the same typePlastic spoonPopsicle stickMarkerSpray bottle (mist setting)Continued on page 1816 Technology and Children December 2006


COOL TOOLSthe viseElementary students get excitedwhen the tools come out. Theyabsolutely love working with tools!Their eyes light up whenever they aretold that they will be working on a newproject. This excitement is fun to see andexperience because excited students arehardworking students! They sketch theirplans, gather their materials, and get towork with the available tools.It is interesting to see the students’enthusiasm grow when wood is broughtout for them to build with. It seems thatthey feel like the project is more important,or that the “stakes are higher” whenwood is involved. We recommend usingbasswood or balsa wood for elementaryschool projects. This wood is a softhardwood that the children can cut easily.The students love sanding it, althoughsanding isn’t always necessary. Basswoodand balsa wood don’t leave sharp splinterswhen they are cut.place. These holding devices help childrencut and shape the wood safely. Holdingdevices enable the students to work withsome precision. We have found that thevise is one of the best tools for holding thestudents’ work. Students can use the viseto hold the wood in place so that cuttingis done with ease. The vise is also a “cooltool” to use when the children need to drilla hole in their wood.by Ginger Whitingand Janis Churchillsizes of wood. This vise can also be usedas a cutting and drilling jig. Ledges on theinside of the vise hold wood and dowelslevel for cutting. While most vises thatcome to mind are very heavy and can be areal safety issue if not attached to tabletopscorrectly, this vise is lightweight, making ita safe choice in elementary classrooms.When the children are building anddesigning, many great things happen.Meaningful and relevant learning takesWhen students are working with wood, itis important to keep the workpiece steadyso that the cut can be straight and the jointscan be smooth. There are many differenttools that can be used to hold the wood inThere are many different types of vises,and you can find them in a variety ofcatalogs. If you would like your students tobe able to cut angles into the woodas well as straight cuts, a rotationalvise could be the solution for you.The other great thing about thevise is that you can attach it to anyflat surface. Desktops, tables, andcounters have worked really well tokeep the vise stable.We’ve tried many different visesand have found the Valiant vise tobe a valuable tool. Like any vise,it can adjust to fit many differentplace, and many skills are utilized. Whenyou step into an elementary classroom andparticipate in a design technology project,you will observe excited students workingwith awesome tools. The great thing is thatthey won’t even notice you—they’ll betoo busy designing, building, testing, andrebuilding. Who knew that learning couldbe so much fun?Cool Tools: The Vise17


COOL TOOLSWebsites for catalogs where visescan be found:www.valiant-technology.com/uswww.thesciencesource.comwww.shop-pitsco.comwww.kelvin.comThe Valiant vise holds the wood tightly in place,allowing children to keep their hands farther fromthe cutting edge of the saw.This is a front view of the Valiant vise. The cuttingjigs for drills are visible on the side. The metalcutting jig for saws is visible on the top. The knobon the front makes it easy for children to open andclose the vise.The Valiant vise is clamped on the table in reverseto show teachers how easy it is to attach. Unlikesome vises, it attaches with two desk clamps.There is a ledge in the vise that holds the woodstrip or dowel rod firmly in place. Note that thevise ledge is longer than in a typical vise.Ginger Whiting is with Children’sEngineering Educators, LLC of Richmond, VA.She can be reached via email at gwhiting@childrensengineering.com.Janis Churchill is a second gradeteacher at McGaheysville Elementary School,McGaheysville, Virginia. She can be reachedvia email at jchurchill@rockingham.k12.va.us.Seed Journey continued from page 16During every class have the studentsobserve and water their seeds in theplanting center, and have them recordthe changes (in a table or spreadsheetdocument).procedure1....Give each student at least three seeds.Give each student a popsicle stick andmarker and have the student writehis/her name as well as the type ofseed he/she will be planting.Assign a space to each student in theplanting table.Have the student use the plastic spoonto dig three small holes—one for eachof his/her three seeds.5.6.7.John Arango is the elementary technologyeducation instructor at the Henry BarnardLaboratory School on the Rhode Island Collegecampus. He can be contacted at JArango@ric.edu.Have the student place one seed ineach hole and cover the seed gentlywith some dirt, using the spoon.Have the student use the bottlemister to spray some water onto theseedlings.Have the student record on his/herspreadsheet the date and time ofplanting and all observations.18 Technology and Children December 2006


TECHNO TIPSideas for integrating technologyeducation into everyday learningThe term “nature” relates to thephysical world, the universe,technology, and the human-madeworld. These worlds, however, are one.Nature’s beauty and mystery provide uswith models from which we can learn andgain inspiration for innovation. It is ourresponsibility to insure that technology andnature coexist. Try these activities belowand explore nature’s masterpieces throughtechnology.language arts• You can’t beat Mother Nature, butyou can copy her! Discuss biomimicrywith your students—how many timeshas technology been developed in anattempt to duplicate natural propertiesor processes? Have the studentsbrainstorm a couple of examples (e.g.,airplane/bird), then take your studentson “biomimic” scavenger hunts. Forthe first hunt, give each team twopictures of a technological object(e.g., helicopter/chair/wheel/glue/pencil...). Take your teams outside to“hunt” for natural objects that couldhave sparked the idea for thosetechnologies. After the hunt, eachteam reports and records its findingson a class chart.• For a second “hunt,” give each teama different natural object. Each teamshould have access to a microscopeand/or magnifying lens. They shouldtake notes as they observe theirobject, discuss its purpose, processes,actions, how it works, and itsrelationship with other natural objects.Next the team should read its data and“hunt for” (brainstorm) technologies—already invented or those that haven’tyet been created—that might mimic asimilar natural object. Each team canchoose one idea to develop or design.The students present their designsorally to the class or create a shortvideo explaining their design andhow it mimics nature. Check this sitefor more information on biomimicry:www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/features.html.mathby Krista Jones• Measure the distances that a sailcar orboat travels (activity follows). Keepa distance log for each test. Compareresults for different sail designs and fordifferent air-pressure levels. Studentsshould interpret their data, choosetheir most efficient design, and thencalculate an average distance. Createa class graph showing the combinedstudent test data. Discuss the graphand decide on several statements thatcould describe the outcomes of thetests.science• Learn about some of the natural forcesand how we use technology to putthem to work. Magnetism is one forcethat is used in many technologies suchas motors, speakers, phones, videos,tapes, super conductors, generators,computers, and other electronics.Teach your students about magnetism.Be sure to give them plenty of timeObserving NatureDigital microscopeshelp with detailedobservations.Techno Tips19


TECHNO TIPSInvestigating Magnetic LevitationExperimenting with Magnetic Attractionfor free experimentation. Thenintroduce the idea of using the forceof magnetism for transportation.Ask them to explain how they thinkmagnetic levitation works, then haveteams build their own Mag-Lev trains.First YOU (or some very patientstudents) will need to build a coupleof levitation pads. For your pad, usea 2” x 5” piece of wood or plastic.Hot-glue eight small, square, ceramicmagnets to your pad. You will need tomake sure that the UP facing sides ofyour magnets are ALL the same poles.NOTE: This is tough on your brainand nerves! As soon as you figure itout, glue them down. Students willuse a 2” x 5” piece of stiff tag boardwith six magnets (same kind aspad) attached to the bottom (strong,double-stick Scotch tape workswell). As the teams work throughtheir magnetic alignment, encouragethem to keep track of their poles bymarking their magnets with piecesof masking tape or pencils. They willneed to test the magnet poles againstthe pad often. Once their Mag-Levtrain is finished, it should levitateon the pad. You can also purchaseMag-Lev tracks from several catalogs.(Mag-Lev tracks and information:www.howstuffworks.com/maglev-train.htm and http://catalog.pitsco.com/store/detail.aspx?KeyWords=mag%20lev%20track&by=20&ID=2623)• Another force to explore is airpressure. Have your students designand build boats or sailcars. Docomparative tests by blowing througha straw or by using an electric fan.Discuss aerodynamics and exploredifferent sail shapes. Students shouldbe able to explain why their sails didor did not work.social studies• Preserving and protecting natureis one of the most importanttechnological issues that we mustdeal with. Research and discusssome of the ways that differentPutting Natural Forces to Worktechnologies impact nature. Wheneverpossible, have your students developenvironmental impact statementsalong with their project designs. Alsohave them investigate clean andgreen technologies that are beingdeveloped, or are already in usetoday. Get more info on clean-tech at:• http://news.com.com/Investors+see+green+in+clean+tech/2100-1008_3-5796707.html• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_technology** All activities can be modified accordingto grade level.Krista Jones is a teacher of elementarytechnology education, Grades K-5, at BellevueElementary School, Bellevue, Idaho. She can bereached via email at kjones@blaineschools.org.20 Technology and Children December 2006


Join us in San Antonio forITEA’s 69th Annual Conference and Exhibition.Here’s why you won’t want to miss it!•••••••••It’s your chance to connect professionally and personally withindustry colleaguesProfessional development! Over 100 sessions to choose fromGeneral sessions with leading-edge keynote presentationsSpecialized and exclusive tours/workshops at National InstrumentsPreconference workshops to choose from—six in allIndustry educational tours on Thursday and FridayA full social schedule, including an exclusive event at the BuckhornMuseumExhibits, exhibits, and more exhibitsA multitude of downtown attractions and the famous RiverwalkFor more information, visit the ITEA website atwww.iteaconnect.org and click on “Conference.”

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