Magazine article Technology and Children

Alerts and Warnings!

Magazine article Technology and Children

Alerts and Warnings!

Article excerpt


Building children's engineering activities from science lessons is an excellent way to cement the difference between science and technology when teaching children. As children learn about the natural world around them, they can be challenged to apply that knowledge to create items useful to them. Through this process, children reinforce the difference between natural phenomena and the human-made world.

Teacher Preparation

1. Teachers should familiarize themselves with simple series circuits and homemade switches. Clear diagrams are available from S.T.E.R at Cambridge University Press. To download these files, go to and download the following files:

21 : Electricity: connecting batteries and bulbs

22: Electricity: connecting wires

23: Electricity: fault finding

25: Electricity: simple circuits 1

26: Electricity: simple circuits 2

27: Electricity: switches 1

28: Electricity: switches 2

2. Think through the various responses to the brainstorming activities in Part 1. This will provide you with possible questions to ask if students need prompting to take their thinking beyond bank alarms and doorbells.

3. Decide if you want to put limits on materials. For example, you may want to limit the feet of bell wire the students use, or the size and number of batteries they have available for each system.


Building Background

Plan for this activity to take place after science lessons on electricity and building series circuits. Before attempting the challenge, children should work in pairs to create circuits containing sample homemade switches. Experimentation with various styles of switches is essential. An awareness of how various switches work will allow for more creative solutions to the activity challenge.

Use the following productive thinking activities to encourage students to think of various uses for personal warning systems. Keep a chart of responses to each critical-thinking activity.

1. Make a list of many, varied, and unusual places that have an alarm system in place to announce an intruder.

2. Brainstorm the many, varied, and unusual reasons that we have various alert systems throughout our homes, businesses, and communities that have nothing to do with intruders.

3. Encourage students to think of many, varied, and unusual reasons that they have for wanting a personal alert system of their own.

Follow up classroom brainstorming with a homework assignment. Request that students make a list of many varied ways they might use a personal warning system at home. These lists will help when they receive the challenge.


Design Activity

Everyone wants or needs to be alerted when certain things are happening. You may need to be alerted that it is time to get up in the morning, catch the school bus, eat dinner, or that your room has been invaded.

Design Challenge

Design and build a personal alert system that will help make your life or the life of someone in your family a little better. Your system must contain an electrical circuit with a homemade switch and be attractive, easily seen or heard, and be reusable.


* Electrical wire

* Electrical tape

* Batteries

* Christmas tree lights

* Buzzers

* Brass brads/paper fasteners

* Metal paper clips

* Card stock

* Aluminum foil

* Clothespins

* Film canister

* Ball bearings

* Wire strippers

* Scissors, markers, rulers, pencils, glue, and other general art supplies


Prepare for the challenge by conducting hands-on science lessons centering on controlling electricity. …

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