Innovation in Action


  • Galileo's Telescope

    Contrary to what many people think, Galileo did not invent the telescope. In this video segment adapted from NOVA, the Italian physicist and mathematician improves on an existing spyglass design to create a more powerful one -- a refracting telescope that he then used to study the night sky.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Secrets of Selfridges: Part 6

    In this segment of Secrets of Selfridges, learn how Selfridge's groundbreaking innovations such as the first-floor cosmetic department have inspired modern retail psychology. Due to Edwardian trends of the time, his competitors usually hid makeup away on higher floors, but Selfridge challenged the notion of the time by placing everything together at the front of the store. His novel idea has now become the template for department stores around the world. When WWI began in 1914, some department stores turned the war to their advantage. Selfridges posted record annual profits by the end of the war allowing him to add an extension to the store just in time for the economic boom of the 1920s.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Solving the Doctor Shortage in Mozambique | Wide Angle

    This video from the Wide Angle film "Birth of a Surgeon" provides an overview of the issue of maternal mortality in Mozambique and an innovative program to try to tackle this problem. The program trains midwives and nurses to perform cesareans and other life-saving procedures during pregnancy and delivery.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Technology Over Time

    In this interactive activity adapted from A Science Odyssey, learn how technology in the home has changed through the years. Scroll through a timeline from 1900 to 2010 to explore technological innovations in the home (such as phonographs, telephones, refrigerators, radios, televisions, and computers), and read about how they were developed and adapted and how they changed the way people live.

    Grades: 3-8
  • Ethanol Biofuel

    Discover ethanol, a cleaner-burning fuel alternative to gasoline, and the efforts to produce it more efficiently in this video segment adapted from NOVA. Today, most ethanol in the United States is made from corn kernels. But converting corn into ethanol requires lots of energy as well as corn, which might otherwise be used to feed people and livestock. The video features research efforts to use less valuable plant matter, called cellulosic biomass, and microorganisms that may be able to accomplish the conversion from plant matter to fuel in a single step.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Green Technology: Sustaining the Earth

    In this interactive activity produced for Teachers' Domain, explore five different areas of research and innovation in green technology: renewable energy and conservation; green building; transportation; manufacturing; and pollution and waste management. Within the categories, investigate examples of innovations in solar power, biofuels, energy efficiency, materials efficiency, planes and trains, automobiles, electronic paper, consumer electronics, carbon capture and storage, and bioremediation.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • iFarm

    Support your STEM and Social Studies curriculum with this video that profiles a California pistachio farmer who developed an iPad app to improve irrigation. Then, use the accompanying lesson plan, "Old MacDonald Had an iPad: Tracing Technological Innovations in Agriculture," to have students research historical and contemporary agricultural innovations.

     

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Speeding Up Space Travel

    Learn about innovations in rocket technology that could change the way humans explore space in this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW: "Can We Make It to Mars?" Correspondent Jake Ward looks at the hazards of long-term space travel, the limitations of chemical rockets, and new kinds of rockets that are faster and more efficient. Astrophysicist and former astronaut Franklin Chang-Díaz explains his work on VASIMR, a rocket that directs hot plasma through a magnetic nozzle for propulsion. A plasma rocket could make a round-trip flight to Mars in just five months (compared to 2.5 years with a conventional rocket) and would transform space exploration.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12

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