Grades 9-12 ActivitiesEXPLORE TECHNOLOGY
• Grades 9-12 Student Worksheet and Answer Key (PDF)
New York State Social Studies StandardsOverview
Standard 2—World History
Performance Indicator 2.2e
Investigate key events and developments and major turning points in world history to identify the factors that brought about change and the long-term effects of these changes.
Students will investigate a variety of technologies used along the Silk Road (e.g. sericulture, papermaking, astrolabe, water clock). They will then invent a new technology or improve upon an existing one.
Background for Educator
The Silk Road was a conduit not only for tangible goods but also for the scientific knowledge that underlies invention and innovation. As goods moved east and west as well as north and south along these trade routes, so did the ways they were made. These technologies helped transform the societies to which they spread. Key among them were silk making, paper making, and metalworking. Scientific knowledge in subjects such as astronomy and mathematics also moved across Asia.
Before Your Visit
Class Discussion: What is Technology?
Discuss with students why technology is important. Ask: What technologies are critical for your life today? Which could you live without? How are technological innovations shared and spread? (Answers may vary.) Then ask students to discuss and define "technology." (Definition: the application ofscientific knowledge for a variety of purposes, which has given rise to innovations ranging from stone tools to silk making to semiconductors.) Tell students that they'll encounter a variety of technological innovations in the Traveling the Silk Road exhibition, including sericulture (silk making), papermaking, and metalworking, along with scientific instruments such as an astrolabe and a water clock.
Plan how your students will explore Traveling the Silk Road. In the exhibition, students will choose one of the four cities to investigate further, using the student worksheets. You might divide the class into four teams before you come to the Museum, or prefer to let them choose on site.Activity: Sketch a Gadget
Distribute copies of the student worksheets to students before coming to the Museum.
Have students practice their observational drawing skills using simple gadgets or machines gathered from your classroom or homes.
During Your Visit
Traveling the Silk Road Exhibition
3rd floor (30-45 minutes)
Have students explore the exhibition and select one technology to focus on for their student worksheet investigation. Remind students that technology is more than recent inventions such as the microchip and the internet.
In Traveling the Silk Road, students can stamp Passports as they enter each of the four cities. Pick up the Passports at the exhibition entrance.Stout Hall of Asian Peoples
2nd floor (15-20 minutes)
After leaving the Silk Road exhibition, descend the staircase one flight and enter the Stout Hall of Asian Peoples through the door to your left. Towards the center of the hall, visit the China section (yellow walls) to explore Chinese inventions, such as the compass, crossbow, scissors, abacus, and objects made from kingfisher feathers and silk.
Back in the Classroom
Class Discussion: Technology Then & Now
Use these open-ended questions to help students reflect on what they learned during their visit.
Have students read this article from the September 2009 issue of Popular Science that features eight high-school inventors. Have students work in small groups to brainstorm inventions they'd like to see developed or to develop themselves. Have groups present their ideas to the class.
Chinese Inventions: Can You Name Them?
A list of China's contributions to the West and a timeline of Chinese inventions and when they spread to Europe.
China Institute: "East-West Exchange: Silk, Paper, Porcelain"
This curriculum unit explores the importance of East-West cultural exchange. Paper, silk, and porcelain were all invented in China and exported to the West. Students will evaluate the impact of these technologies along the Silk Road.
Astrolabe: A User's Guide
Students who focused on the astrolabe can explore this technology further with this additional information about how to use an astrolabe.
Rediscovering Arabic Science
General information about Islamic science from the 8th-16th centuries.