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Technological Connections in Your Neighborhood

Adapted from People, Space, and Time: The Chicago Neighborhood History Project (1986)

Gerald A. Danzer and Lawrence W. McBride


This lesson introduces students to the fact that their communities and homes are part of a global technological system. Two hallmarks of the global system are technological and economic interdependence. Increasingly, nations are forming agreements to promote trade and the exchange of technology in various regions of the world. NAFTA and the European Union are two such recent examples. The lesson begins with map and globe activities leading to a discussion of the global village concept and the theme of interdependence. As the lesson continues, students use a handout to explore how the local economy is connected to a global economy. Students then use a second handout to survey household items in order to understand how their household contains technology and other resources from around the world.


1. Discuss the global context for the exchange of scientific information, technology, and innovation.

2. Technological interdependence:

Note how the local economy is part of worldwide technological system.

Illinois Learning Standards

15.A. Understand how different economic systems operate in the exchange, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

15.E. Understand the impact of government policies and decisions on production and consumption in the economy.


I. Introduction: Trace land, water, and air routes

A. Use a local map to trace routes via automobile from the neighborhood to the city's airports, ports, and train stations, or from a small town to an AmTrak station or the nearest regional airport.

B. Use a U.S. map to trace airline, highway, and railroad routes from Chicago and other large regional cities to the coasts, Canada, and Mexico.

C. Trace water routes from Chicago and other river cities in Illinois to coastal ports.

D. Use a world map to trace water routes from Chicago to selected port cities around the world.

E. Use the classroom globe to trace great circle routes for airline travel from Chicago's international airport to other cities around the world.

II. Key vocabulary terms:

A. System—An arrangement of things so related or connected as to form a unity or whole

B. Commerce—The buying and selling of goods

C. Commodity—Anything bought or sold that can be touched (goods as opposed to services)

III. Global Village: Some Dimensions

A. Media contact—Reading newspapers, watching television, listening to the radio

B. Ethnic ties—Through immigration, migration, heritage, ancestry, or folk ways

C. International ties—Through family members in the military stationed


abroad; membership or interest in, or support for, world-wide political movements (for example, Greenpeace or Amnesty International); purchasing UNICEF products in gift shops; membership in religious groups

D. Other types of connections

1. Entertainment—Music, film, dance, theater, and literature

2. Sports—Events like the Pan American Games, the Olympics, World Cup Soccer, etc.

3. Travel—Have students or their parents traveled abroad? Or does the school have an exchange student?

4. Food—Ethnic food served at home or in neighborhood restauraunts

5. Hobbies—Collecting stamps, coins, or art objects

IV. Choices: Technological and Economic Interdependence. Student Handout "Interdependence: Our Neighborhood and the World Economy" (Handout 1)

A. Where do family members shop for automobiles, electronics, computers, and food? Are these businesses owned by members of the community or are they owned by larger companies with headquarters in another city or country?

1. Local ownership

2. National corporations

3. Multinational corporations (based in U.S.)

4. Foreign ownership

B. What commodities are exported by neighborhood businesses?

C. What commodities are imported into the neighborhood?

V. Student handout: "The World in My House" (Handout 2) helps students understand how their house contains many products produced in other nations. Students identify items from various categories (household needs, clothing, food, utilities) and determine the origin of specific raw materials used for production of products and the countries which manufactured or produced them.

A. Students can use a map of the world to trace routes utilized for both imported and exported commodities taken to and from the community. If students use maps at their desks, they can use different colored pencils to trace these routes.

B. Students might wish to investigate the origin of all the ingredients of a product they use on a regular basis—a telephone, for instance. After the component parts have been traced from their point of origin, teachers may wish to ask students what might happen when one particular ingredient is in short supply? What are alternative sources for the ingredient? Teachers can add to the discussion such concerns as research and development, delivery systems of the raw materials, production of the phone, labor, and marketing.

VI. Discussion of Current Issues regarding Science, Technology, and Innovation

A. The local scene

1. How can federal, state, and local governments help communities in Illinois develop or protect the local economy and the jobs related to science and technology?

2. How can a community in Illinois help itself in order to promote local businesses that produce technological products for export?

B. The global technological village: its people, space, and time dimensions

1. People: How might the world's people treat each other if every one on earth had complete access to all the modern technology?

2. Space: As people move from one place to another around the world, what impact will new technologies they encounter have on their native culture?

3. Time: The accelerated rate of interchange of scientific ideas and technological innovations among people in our time has created a new epoch in history. How well adjusted are we to these new conditions?

C. Science, Technology, and Me

1. What do I need to do to become more "scientifically literate"?

2. What are the issues in science and technology that are of most interest to me?

3. What can I do to get involved in solving a local problem that has been created by technological innovation or by the misuse of a new technology?




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