This week we tuned in to our new Unit, Where We Are in Place and Time.
Our central ideas is People’s understanding of science has evolved over time, and shapes the future.
We began tuning in by looking at Sir Isaac Newton’s quote, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” We had a discussion about what we thought the quote might mean.
Polina said it sounded like Newton was being interviewed and this was his response to why he was so smart. Taka added to her idea by saying the ‘Giants’ in the quote represent the people who came before him and whose ideas he built upon.
Later, we came back to this quote and talked about an article The Atlantic ran a few years ago, called “The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel”. In the article, experts across the fields of science and technology ranked what they felt were the most important discoveries and inventions over the past 6000 years. The Atlantic staff compiled and sorted the data to come up with an overall ranking based on the experts’ ideas. I gave ten cards to each group of three children. Each card had one of the inventions from the article, without their ranking. I asked each group of children to rank the discoveries and inventions from most important to least important. They had to research any discoveries they were unfamiliar with, and had to justify their reasoning.
They presented their findings to their classmates, who challenged their thinking by questioning their decisions.
I sent the children the article via email, so they can compare their thinking with the experts.
We will come back to this article and continue the discussion after the break.
We will also order the inventions and discoveries by when in history they happened and place them on a timeline.
In the coming weeks, the children will choose a breakthrough that interests them and write an essay on that discovery and the person who made it.