Emerging Technologies

Nature of Science & Engineering
Interactions Among Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Society

Current and emerging technologies have enabled humans to develop and use models to understand and communicate how natural and designed systems work and interact.

Benchmark: Use of Maps & Data Sets

Use maps, satellite images and other data sets to describe patterns and make predictions about natural systems in a life science context.

For example: Use online data sets to compare wildlife populations or water quality in regions of Minnesota.

Benchmark: Procedures for Investigations

Determine and use appropriate safety procedures, tools, measurements, graphs and mathematical analyses to describe and investigate natural and designed systems in a life science context.


Standard in Lay Terms 

Science keeps up with current technology and incorporates it to further understanding of natural and designed systems. 

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea:

Science and technology go hand in hand, to explore the universe. Technology allows students to measure data with precision and accuracy that is unavailable with the human senses. By incorporating the power of technology in the science classroom, students can analyze data with powerful machines, look for patterns on a large or even global scale and communicate with other science classrooms across the state, country or even the globe to create a network for data collection.

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks :

Use maps, satellite images and other data sets to describe patterns and make predictions about natural systems in a life science context.

For example: Use online data sets to compare wildlife populations or water quality in regions of Minnesota.

Determine and use appropriate safety procedures, tools, measurements, graphs and mathematical analyses to describe and investigate natural and designed systems in a life science context.


A quote, cartoon or video clip link directly related to the standard.

The cartoon, from this site, can be download and used free of charge by individual teachers/educators.

  • NSES Standards:

Science and Technology

Content Standard E
As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop


1.    Abilities of technological design

2.    Understandings about science and technology

  • Benchmarks of Science Literacy

Grades 6 through 8


Students can now develop a broader view of technology and how it is both like and unlike science. They do not easily distinguish between science and technology, seeing both as trying to get things (including experiments) to happen the way one wants them to. There is no need to insist on definitions, but students' attention can be drawn to when they are clearly trying to find something out, clearly trying to make something happen, or doing some of each.

Furthermore, as students begin to think about their own possible occupations, they should be introduced to the range of careers that involve technology and science, including engineering, architecture, and industrial design. Through projects, readings, field trips, and interviews, students can begin to develop a sense of the great variety of occupations related to technology and to science, and what preparation they require.

By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that

  • In earlier times, the accumulated information and techniques of each generation of workers were taught on the job directly to the next generation of workers. Today, the knowledge base for technology can be found as well in libraries of print and electronic resources and is often taught in the classroom. 3A/M1
  • Technology is essential to science for such purposes as access to outer space and other remote locations, sample collection and treatment, measurement, data collection and storage, computation, and communication of information. 3A/M2
  • Engineers, architects, and others who engage in design and technology use scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. They also usually have to take human values and limitations into account. 3A/M3*

Common Core Standards (i.e. connections with Math, Social Studies or Language Arts Standards):  GPS connects both with math and social studies in linking where animals migrate to.


Student Misconceptions 
  • When asked to describe their views about science in general, high-school students portray scientists as brilliant, dedicated, and essential to the world. However, when asked about science as a career, students respond with a negative image of scientific work and scientists. They see scientific work as dull and rarely rewarding, and scientists as bearded, balding, working alone in the laboratory, isolated, and lonely. [1]
  • This image of scientists has also been frequently documented among elementary- and middle-school students. [2]
  • Some research suggests that this image may represent students' knowledge of the public stereotype rather than their personal views and knowledge of science and scientists. [3]
  • Some students of all ages believe science mainly invents things or solves practical problems rather than exploring and understanding the world. Some high-school students believe that moral values and personal motives do not influence a scientist's contributions to the public debate about science and technology and think that scientists are more capable than others to decide those issues. [4]

[1] Mead, M., Metraux, R. (1957). Image of the scientist among high-school students: A pilot study. Science, 126, 384-390.

[2] Fort, D., Varney, H. (1989). How students see scientists: Mostly male, mostly white, and mostly benevolent. Science and Children, 26, 8-13.

Newton, D., Newton, L. (1992). Young children's perceptions of science and the scientist.International Journal of Science Education, 14, 331-348.

[3] Boylan, C., Hill, D., Wallace, A., Wheeler, A. (1992). Beyond stereotypes. Science Education, 76, 465-476.

[4] Aikenhead, G.S. (1987). High school graduates' beliefs about science-technology-society III. Characteristics and limitations of scientific knowledge. Science Education, 71, 459-487.

Fleming, R. (1986). Adolescent reasoning in socio-scientific issues. Part I: Social cognition.Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23, 677-687.

Fleming, R. (1986). Adolescent reasoning in socio-scientific issues. Part II: Nonsocial cognition. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23, 688-698.

Fleming, R. (1987). High school graduates' beliefs about science-technology-society II. The interaction among science, technology, society. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 71, 163-186.


Mrs. J pulled up the Google map of the school grounds on her SmartBoard. "What kind of information can you take from this image?"

"Can you find my house, Mrs. J? Why can't you see the kids playing soccer outside the field right now? Yeah, and how come you can't see the cars moving? Where is the camera at? Is it on an airplane? a hot air balloon?"

"Whoa, Whoa! The question was what kind of information can you find by looking at this picture of the school?"

Tim raised his hand, "I think you could find out how much grass there is."

"How much roof there is on the middle school and high school." said Gretchen. "Or how much parking lot."

"Could you measure how much shade there is from all the trees?"asked Shane.

"Could you find out how big the football field is compared to the baseball diamond?"Russell wanted to know.

"What amazing questions you have? What do they all have in common?" There was a pregnant pause, as Mrs. J waited. It seemed forever, but she knew if she waited long enough, thinking would commence along with answers.

"They are all about measuring something. Tim wondered how much grass and everyone asked the same kind of thing," responded Andrea.

"That's correct," said Mrs. J. "But how can we measure things in this picture?" Again, another pause. Brains were cooking with answers, for sure.

Russell was the first to respond. "We can use the football field. We know how big that is from gym class."

"Yeah, we can use it kind of like ruler to measure the sizes of other things as well," Liza chimed in.

"These are great responses to those questions, but today we're going to do something a little more basic than that. Where do these images from Google come from? Earlier, some of you were wondering if they came from a plane or a hot air balloon. But they come from satellites."

"How does Google get the pictures on the computer then?" asked Stephano. "Do the satellite drop rolls of film down from space or send them back with the shuttle?"

"No, all these images are digital images. Where have you heard that term before?" asked Mrs. J.

"I have a digital camera on my phone." replied Hans. "But what does that mean?"

"What are digits?" probed Mrs. J. "What class do you use digits in?"

"Math class," came a crowd response.

"So digits are numbers, and the satellite radios numbers down to a computer, just like Hans' digital camera," explained Mrs. J. She pulled up an image on her SmartBoard of a satellite scanning the landscape and then sending a series of 1s and 0s to a radio antenna. The 1s and 0s then were shown traveling through a wire to a computer where they showed up as a picture of the landscape.

"Today you are going to be a satellite. You will take a picture and turn it into 1s and 0s, give the code to a computer and they will translate the digits back into a picture." Mrs. J then proceeded to hand out simple black and white images of animals. She then also handed them pieces of graph paper transparency. She instructed the students to place the transparency over the black and white picture. "Zero will be the start and end of a row. As you move from left to right across the row, if there is nothing in the square, the value will be one. If there is some part of the animal, then the value will be 2."

"How much of the square needs to be filled before you call it a one or a two?" asked Hans.

"You are the satellite, you need to decide that and be consistent."

"But Andrea's transparency squares are smaller than mine, what will that do to the picture and the computer image?" asked Stephano.

"What do you think will change between the sizes of transparency graphs?" asked Mrs. J.

Russell spoke, "I think the smaller the squares the sharper the picture will be."

"So, kind of like the pixels on my camera? The more there are the sharper the picture?" asked Hans.

"But what is a pixel?" asked Mrs. J.

"It is a little square on my television. Since we went to digital TV, my dad is always yelling about the picture getting pixelated," responded Liza.

"You are right, Liza. A pixel is a small piece of data. What are the pixels you are working with right now?"

"Well, by turning what is in the square, which is the pixel, into a number, we're creating a digital image," added LeTroy.

"When you are done with the numbers of your transparency, remove the picture and hand the graph paper to someone else, along with a clean sheet of paper graph paper. Their job is to turn the numbers back into a picture, by coloring in all the 2's," instructed Mrs. J.

The students went about their work, digitizing zebras and penguins and chickens, then handing the numbers to a classmate who turned the numbers back into pictures. When the group was done, Mrs. J brought them back together. She asked them to look at the original images and then the digitized images.

"Make some observations about the products," she asked.

The observations ranged to differences in square size to some students had skipped lines and it looked just like the 'pixelated' TV screen. Some of the images were sharper than others, some were easy to identify what the original image was, some not so easy.

So, Mrs. J went back to the screen and the image of the school grounds. "Where are the pixels here?"

"They are in the image." responded Chelsea. "Zoom in all the way."

Mrs. J zoomed in to the point where the pixels were visible and the picture of the grounds was not to sharp anymore. "What could you do with the pixels in this image? Talk to people at your lab table." They visited for a  minute or so.

"If you know how big a pixel is, just like on the graph paper, you can use that to measure the size of stuff on the screen," said Stephano.

"That would be even better than using the football field," said Liza.

Mrs. J wrapped up the day with some other thoughts and questions about their animal images and that exercise. The class would use Google earth to try and quantify some of the questions about the school grounds, but then moved the images around to measure farmland and woods in the area and how much green space there is in town.


Instructional Notes 

Instructional suggestions/options:

Doing river clean up and water monitoring of rivers close to your school can be set up through the DNR. 

testing water in lakes will also allow students to test for invasive species that may have invaded the lake.

Selected activities:

  • Tracking Wolves The International Wolf Center relies heavily on scientific research to provide facts about wolves that can be shared with the world. Radio telemetry is one such research technique that has dramatically expanded our knowledge of wolves. Visitors to the Center in Ely learn about radio telemetry by actually venturing into the forest to track wild wolves. While this is the most exciting way to learn about wolves and wolf research, technology gives amateur researchers another alternative.
  • Phenology Phenology is the study of the seasonal timing of life cycle events. You are studying phenology when you record the date a certain plant flowers, a tree's leaves emerge, an insect hatches, or a migratory bird appears on its nesting grounds.The dates on which these happen each year are affected by factors such as daylength, temperature, and rainfall. Please report signs of the seasons from your part of the world!
  •  Tracking invasive species in the great lakes: Teaching with Great Lakes Data
  • and River Watch is a Red River Basin-wide citizen water quality monitoring program organized and delivered by the International Water Institute and its partners through high schools and communities. The program has grown from one pilot watershed to a network of more than 35 schools monitoring 160 sites. Teachers and students collect water quality data, learn about monitoring rivers and streams, and make presentations to local units of government.
  • , Great Lakes Worm Watch Earthworms are not native to the Great Lakes Region. They were all wiped out after the last glaciation. The current population, brought here by early Europeans, is slowly changing the face of our native forests.
  • , Journey North
  • Project Globe GIS connections with Social Studies Dept.
  • GLOBE project GPS and ground truthing (what is the satellite really seeing)
  • Google Earth Here is link to some ideas and activities for using Google Earth in classrooms
Instructional Resources 

Additional resources or links

Fresh and Salt Curriculum Fresh and Salt is a collection of activities connecting Great Lakes and ocean science topics to enhance teacher capabilities for accessing science information in Great Lakes and ocean sciences. Designed to be used by teachers in grades 5-10, this exemplary collection provides teachers with an interdisciplinary approach to ensure students achieve optimum science understanding of both Great Lakes and Ocean Literacy Principles. A varied range of instructional modes is offered, including data interpretation; experimentation; simulation; interactive mapping; and investigation.

New Vocabulary 


  • gps  global positioning system is a satellite-based navigation system consisting of a network of 24 orbiting satellites
  • Tracking  collars  are collars used as a radio beacon to track animal migration for research.
  • extinct   term used to refer to a species that has died out and has no living members
  • endangered  in danger of becoming extinct
  • deforestation  removal of trees
  • desertification  process in which desert like conditions are created where there had been none.
  • exotic species  species released into a place where they had never been before.
  • wildlife conservation  conservation of Earth's living things.
  • captive breeding  causing zoo animals to have offspring.
Technology Connections 
  • Internet connections: Teaching With Great Lakes Data. Choose among Great Lakes  lessons and activities, data sets and tools. Any of these multidisciplinary resources may be incorporated into your curriculum. All the materials on this website are free.
  • Cameras/flip videos/microscopes if students are able to collect their own data to use to compare.
  • Web-based Journey North for excellent source for information on global migrations and seasonal change.
  • Hardware cameras that connect to microscopes. The digital microscope allows the investigator to now manipulate the image for measurement, identification and  preservation without harming the organism.
  • I-Pads for research and pictures
  • GPS units with software for tracking organisms
Cross Curricular Connections 

Biomes and carrying capacity inter acts with social studies.



Formative Assessment:

  • Using a data table that has geographic coordinates from wolf tracking GPS collars, plot the data on a map. Then answer the question, what pattern do you see in the wolf pack movement. Offer a possible explanation of the movement.
  • Design a use for satellite data in predicting the impact on wildlife from spring flooding.
  • Discuss the ethics of tracking animals. Should animals that are radio collared be hunted?

Summative Assessment

  • Application: Set up geocache opportunities on campus and have students race.
  • Application  and analyzing:: Have students prepare a powerpoint that demonstrates how science uses satellite imagery to follow deforestation in the rainforests of the earth.
  • Evaluating: Students are given sets of data from arctic sea ice imagery over the past decades and must make predictions based on surface area trends. How will this impact the wildlife that lives in that region of the planet.
  • You might also have students organize and apply new knowledge by writing a short essay in response to an open-ended question. For example, "What are some of the risks and benefits of new technology? What are some of the ways that information gained during space shuttle mission advance scientific knowledge overall?"


  • What are the limitations students (and teachers) face when it comes to using technology?
  • Students will need access to lots of technology, which is expensive. Will administration support this cost? How will you work with the administration/community to make sure this is funded?
  • How will you work with another teacher who is reluctant/fearful of technology?


  • Teachers and students may spend a lot of time out of doors with GPS devices.
  • Students will need access to technology, whether it is internet links, tools like Vernier LabQuests or GPS devices. These students are digital natives.
  • Will students be allowed to use the apps on their mobile computing devices (cell phones) in their science classes?


Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk:

Snow, D. (2003). Noteworthy perspectives: Classroom strategies for helping at-risk students (rev. ed.). Aurora, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.

In 2002, McREL conducted a synthesis of recent research on instructional                      strategies to assist students who are low achieving or at risk of failure. From this             synthesis of research, McREL identified six general classroom strategies that                 research indicates are particularly effective in helping struggling students achieve            success.

Hands on activities as in the vignette will help at risk students.

English Language Learners 

Herr, N. (2007). The sourcebook for teaching science. This page contains strategies to help teachers better attend to the needs of their ELL learners. These strategies are grouped according to the following learning tasks: listening, visualization, interpersonal communication, laboratory, demonstrations, reading and writing, instruction and vocabulary.

Posters will also allow ELL students to use pictures to help with the vocabulary necessary.

Extending the Learning 


  • Teachers First is an educational support website that may help with G/T students
  • Cogito is another website that is available for G/T Students.

Science education should include the use of culturally relevant content.  Atwater (1995a-c) and Banks(1987,1988) have proposed several ways to integrate culturally relevant content into the curriculum.  The value of using such approaches is that they can improve the conversation about beliefs in science and hone beliefs about science for all students.

Posters will also allow multi-cultural students to use pictures to help with the vocabulary necessary.

Multicultural science education.  Official NSTA Position Statement.

Freelang.net hosts a English to Ojibwe and Ojibwe to English dictionary that may be used to look up meanings to vocabulary words.

Activities like those in the vignette would help students

Special Education 

Technologies for Special Needs Students: In their newsletter, "Tech Trek",  from               the National Science Teachers Association, there are suggestions for using technology including voice recognition software

Hands on labs like the one in the vignette helps special ed students comprehend concepts better than straight book work.



Technology that is used in the class room may be beyond parents knowledge.  Keep parents informed and students safe.