Making contact

This lesson for students aged 10-11 is about communication. It takes inspiration from the inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell. Looking at telephones and touchscreens.


From cable to wireless the telephone has evolved to respond to our modern mobile lifestyle. The original concept of voice transmission was simply by mechanical vibrations eg a string can ‘phone’, whereas later scientific advances in electromagnetic sound transmitters and receivers enabled the application of this emerging science to a practical telephone patented by Bell in 1876. The lesson focuses on the application of science to solving problems and inventing a new product that can then be tested as fit for purpose.


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Thinking for learning. Paired talk and simple shared drawing eg whiteboards. Think about ‘How does a text go from one phone to another’? Pupils to devise a theory, even if it is silly or extreme. Encourage creative thinking as the majority of adults do not know the answer. The right answer is not relevant or needed. Remember Graham Bell, a renowned scientist, would not know the answer!
Experiential revisit prior learning. Pupils handle equipment that allows communication- Tin can telephone, Hose pipe funnels, walkie talkie and a text device. Teacher introduces the process of improvement.


Investigation. Try to work your computer touch pad mouse whilst wearing a glove. It does not work. Why not? How does a touch screen work? Predict, make a hypothesis, create, test and amend a glove that will work a touch pad or touch screen without being removed.
Scientific Explanation and reflection. Encourage pupils to explain how their new glove works. Key terms include complete circuits, conductors and insulators.


Reflection. Make pupils aware that the solving of problems wih new inventions is the role of an engineer. Ask pupils to think about problems related to the phone that might be solved by an engineer in the future.


Lesson material

Download the full Teachers Notes

You'll also need the PowerPoint presentation

Primary resources produced by the University of Manchester's Science & Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub

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