Magazine article Technology and Children

What Do We Mean by Appropriate Technologies? (Article)

Magazine article Technology and Children

What Do We Mean by Appropriate Technologies? (Article)

Article excerpt

The positive and negative impacts of technology are sometimes difficult for elementary students to see. Children take for granted that they will be picked up promptly at the bus stop and whisked to school. The school will have climate controls to make sure that the heating and cooling are just right. There will be a well-balanced, efficiently prepared lunch, and possibly, some students will even have an opportunity to eat breakfast. Technology provides all of these things.

The United States is a very prosperous nation. However, there are many places throughout the world where the quality of life is not as good. In some of these poor and developing countries technology can make life better if it is used appropriately. What do I mean by that? Peoples' lives will be better if technology can be used to improve their basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, health, and a way to make a living.

Technologies that are "appropriate" do not negatively affect the environment and/or the health and well being of people and other living things. Some good examples of appropriate technologies are producing electricity with solar energy, producing electricity with hydropower and wind power, using appropriate agriculture techniques (composting, etc.).

Characteristics of Appropriate Technologies

An excellent resource entitled, Connections: a Curriculum in Appropriate Technology for Fifth and Sixth Grades, available from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in Butte, MT, lists the characteristics of appropriate technologies. Appropriate technologies are those technologies that:

* make use of locally available materials,

* make use of renewable resources,

* can be understood, built, operated, and maintained by the people who use them,

* are generally smaller and less expensive than more complex systems,

* are simple, flexible and can be adjusted to fit different situations and to solve different problems,

* stress conservation of energy,

* require human skills and labor,

* stress the importance of ecology,

* stress community efforts in the solving of problems (p. …

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