What is Technology?

Submitting Organization: National Center for Technological Literacy, Museum of Science, Boston

Grade Levels: 1st Grade – 5th Grade

Subject Area:  Technology

Standards Alignment: Next Generation Science Standards

K-2-ETS-1; 3-5-ETS1; Science & Engineering Practices

Description of the Activity: Many students believe technology only refers to things powered by electricity. In this activity, groups of students get a “mystery bag” containing an example of technology. When students open their bags, they may be surprised to see that they contain everyday objects like sponges, slippers, or bubblegum! Students consider the problem that their object solves and determine what materials the object is made from. A handout guides them to write or draw their thoughts about these questions. Then, in whole-class discussion, students learn that engineers design technologies to solve problems.

Discussion Questions:

  • What is an engineer?
  • What is technology?
  • Are you surprised that [object] is technology? Why or why not?
  • Is the object natural or human-made?
  • What materials is the object made of? What other materials could it be made of?
  • What problem does the object solve? How else could you use it?
  • Who do you think creates these technologies?

Resources Needed:

  • Opaque bags or containers, such as brown paper bags,
  • A variety of simple, everyday engineered products: toothbrush, flashlight, sponge, pen, stapler, scissors, hair brush, etc.

Link to further resources: