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Can You Hear Me?

What wonderful item did Alexander Graham Bell invent? History and technology come together in this recycled construction.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Many areas of the world like to claim Alexander Graham Bell as their own. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland; lived in London, Ontario, and Boston, Massachusetts; and vacationed in Nova Scotia. He truly was a man of the world---who was primarily interested in helping people who could not hear well. The whole world benefited from his dedication.
    2. Students find out what challenges Aleck faced before he got to that fateful March 10, 1876, when he said into a mouthpiece "Mr. Watson – Come here – I want to see you" and was heard through a receiver in the other room by his partner. Here's one way to build an authentic model of that first telephone. Use your own ideas, too. Look at pictures because Bell's model didn't look anything like today's phones.
    3. With black construction paper, roll two cone shapes. Glue the paper's edges with Crayola® School Glue. Air dry.
    4. Glue the two small ends into each other to create an hourglass shape for the speaker mouthpiece. Air dry.
    5. To make the membrane transmitter, crimp up the edges of a paper plate. Glue into a dish shape. Air dry.
    6. Cover your art area with newspaper. Paint the crimped outer edge of the membrane with gold Crayola Premier Tempera and Paint Brushes. Paint several craft sticks gold as well. Air dry.
    7. Cover the outer bottom of the membrane with a light color of Crayola Washable Multicultural Paint. Air dry.
    8. For the reed receiver and battery, cut a recycled paper towel roll into two sections: one a spool-sized section and a slightly longer one (to fit between the membrane and a support stick holding the battery).
    9. Cut the longer cardboard roll section in half down the middle. Tightly roll up and glue into a small pole. Paint these the same colors as materials used in the real instrument. Air dry.
    10. Cut a recycled black foam produce tray into a mouthpiece.
    11. Connect all pieces to painted craft sticks; poke sticks through the mouthpiece at one end, followed by the transmitter, and the battery hanging on the pole through a support stick. Push other collage materials through foam for electrical connectors. Use chenille stems as wires. Have fun talking to each other!
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SCI: Make and use a model to test a design.

    SS: Identify and describe examples in which science and technology have changed the lives of people, such as in homemaking, childcare, work, transportation, and communication.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data resources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

  • Adaptations

    In small groups, students write a skit to recreate the famous moment when telephone technology first worked. Students videotape their skit and upload it to a classroom computer for future viewing.

    Students research other discoveries that made an significant impact on the world. Organize the research into an electronic presentation for future viewing by classmates.

    Alexander Bell had more than a passing interest in having the sound of the human voice travel. Research his life, family members, etc. and discover what may have motivated him to invent the telephone.

    What is a patent? What is the process in obtaining a patent? Students investigate what a patent is and the relationship to inventions, as well as the steps one must take to obtain a patent. Did Alexander Bell receive any patents for his work? If so, what work did he receive them for?

    In 1888, Alexander Bell founded the National Geographic Society. What are the similarities between inventors and explorers? Do teachers have any similarities to inventors and explorers? Bell always listed his profession as a teacher of the deaf. In what ways are these three professions connected?


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