Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Household Products—Past to Future

Judy Marburger


Students will research and explore the development of household inventions.


The student uses a variety of reference materials, including indexes, magazines, newspapers, and journals, and tools, including card catalogs and computer catalogs, to gather information for research topics.

The student organizes information using alphabetical and numerical systems.

The student knows that scientific knowledge is subject to modification as new information challenges prevailing theories and as a new theory leads to looking at old observations in a new way.

The student recognizes the scientific contributions that are made by individuals of diverse backgrounds, interests, talents, and motivations.

The student understands that contributions to the advancement of science, mathematics, and technology have been made by different kinds of people, in different cultures, at different times and are an intrinsic part of the development of human culture.

The student knows that no matter who does science and mathematics or invents things, or when or where they do it, the knowledge and technology that result can eventually become available to everyone.

The student understands how patterns, chronology, sequencing (including cause and effect), and the identification of historical periods are influenced by frames of reference.

The student knows how to impose temporal structure on historical narratives.


-Reference materials
-Chart or constructions paper


A demonstration of how to make a timeline that shows the contributions of many individuals to the development of one product may be necessary prior to this activity. Any household device will serve this purpose.


1. Divide students into groups of two.

2. Have class brainstorm a list of products used in homes today that were not used in homes in 1950. Their list could include, but not be limited to; e-mail, microwave ovens, Internet, velcro, halogen lights, frozen yogurt. Display this list on the board or overhead projector.

3. Allow groups to choose a particular product or technology to research. Each group must research a different product or technology.

4. Student groups will research the history of this product or technology. Allow enough time for groups to gather necessary information. Groups should answer the following questions while conducting research.
a. What smaller inventions make up the device? (e.g., light bulbs, gears, wheels, plugs)
b. Who was responsible for the development of each of the smaller inventions and when were they developed? What was the inventor's cultural background?
c. What other inventions are necessary to use this device? (e.g., light, electricity, radio waves, ovens)
d. Who was responsible for the development of each of these inventions and when was each one developed? What was the inventor's cultural background?
e. Who was responsible for creating the final device that you are researching and when? What was the inventor's cultural background?

5. Students will create a timeline for the product using the answers found when answering the above questions. Each timeline must display the date of each contribution, the inventor or inventors of each contribution, and the cultural background of each contributor.

6. Display timelines and allow students time to view them. Have students discuss the results of their research.

7. Assess students' understanding of the material.

Write a report to accompany the timeline that describes the product in detail.

Give specific historic background of selected product or technology.


The following questions may be used to assess student understanding.

1. From your own research and observations, it may be concluded that
a. devices arise from one individual at one time
b. contributors to a device are all from the same time and place
c. contributors to a device are from different places and different times
d. it can not be determined who made the contributions to any device

(answer c: Contributors to the development of a device come from any different times and cultural backgrounds.)

2. Based on your own project, why was the use of a timeline helpful and necessary?
a. Timelines display dates, places, and inventors clearly.
b. Timelines display the cost and locations of contributions clearly.
c. Timelines display the location and the inventors clearly.
d. Timelines display the inventors and cost clearly.

(answer a: Timelines display dates, places and inventors clearly.)

Students' group work and project may be assessed by the Coaching Rubric in the assoociated file.

See the associated file for sample FCAT reading passage and sample FCAT questions.

Answers to sample FCAT questions
1. This multiple-choice item is FCAT Level I Comprehension.
a. Incorrect Additives are not common objects.
b. Incorrect Additives are not necessarily powerful substances.
c. Incorrect Additives are not adhesives.
d. Correct This answer is the most inclusive. Additives are key components added to a mixture.

2. This multiple-choice item is FCAT Level II Application to a Different Context.
a. Incorrect Cutting has nothing to do with the shiny smoothness of the bough.
b. Incorrect The chipmaker would cut a bough into very small pieces.
c. Correct The debarking operation scrapes the logs clear of their bark.
d. Incorrect The slurry-making part deals only with wood fibers.

3. This short response item is FCAT Level I - Knowledge
A top-scoring response would point out that in earlier periods, loggers had to use axes to cut down trees and had to transport the logs by rolling them down the river. Today, in contrast, machinery is used to cut the trees down and to load the logs aboard trucks, which then convey the logs to a mill.

4. This short response item is FCAT Level II Application/Analysis
A top-scoring response would give at least two environmental reasons to avoid wasting paper: to reduce the number of trees cut down; to reduce the amount of chemicals needed to clean the wood or mix the slurry; to conserve the water needed.

What new products or technologies do you think will be useful in the future?


Students will utilize technology to investigate the development of inventions.

Students will understand that technology evolves from many contributions.

Students will use reading and writing skills to help them research concept material.

Attached Files

A sample FCAT reading passage with questions and a rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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