maker Paideia Unit - "Human Innovation: Moving from the Paper Age to the Cardboard Age and Beyond" – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
Fab-Modeling.1, Fab-Fabrication.1, Fab-Safety.2, Fab-Design.2
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Kristin Burrus
Kristin Burrus
K-12 teacher
I have been a teacher in Hamilton County Schools since 1998. Throughout my career have been a science teacher in 7th -12th grade and facilitated a K-12 VW eLab for two years. I started at STEM School in 2019 and… Read More


Based on early human innovations and transitions from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, make tools that represent how technologies change based on changing materials and techniques available to humans.

What You'll Need

Tools of the “Paper Age” include: 

  • Paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Twine
  • Straws

Tools of the “Cardboard Age” include Paper Age tools and:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors / Snips 
  • Cardboard Cutters
  • Craft sticks / skewers
  • Tape

Tools of the “Digital Fabrication Age” include Paper Age, Cardboard Age and:

  • 3D Printers & filament
  • Laser Cutters
  • ⅛ inch plywood / hardwood
  • 1/2″ Plywood pieces
  • wood scraps
  • Gorilla glue
  • Scroll Saw
  • hand sanders and sandpaper

Seminar will need several “objects” that have changed over time. In our example we used phones, but computers, guitars, cars, bicycles, etc. will work.


The Instructions

Innovation Seminar

Seminar is an intellectual dialogue facilitated by open ended questions about a text. In this case our "text" were actual phones - iPhone 5, flip phone, wall mounted phone with touch tone, and a rotary phone.



Text: Phones through the Ages (actual phones – no text)

Grade / Subject: 6th Grade Social Studies

Ideas, Values: Human Innovation, technology, progress, material qualities (strength, flexibility, weight)


Pre-Seminar Content

  • Launch Activity: 4 Corners Activity “People are ____ making stuff better” (Always, Sometimes, Rarely, Never) – discuss with your group why you are here – pick a speaker to explain out to the class.


  • Inspectional read: In small groups, Silently look at the phones on the table, pick them up, etc. (2 minutes per group)


  • Background: Be sure to show kids how rotary phones work.  


  • Vocabulary Development: handset, rotary dial, touch tone, receiver


  • Analytical read: Fill out the graphic organizer – What do you see? How are the phones different from each other? How are the phones alike?


Pre-Seminar Process


  • Define and state purpose for Paideia Seminar.
  • Describe the responsibilities of facilitator and participants.
  • Have participants set a Personal Goal.  
  • Agree on a Group Goal. Through dialogue to have a greater understanding of the ideas of the text, of ourselves, and of each other.  



Seminar Questions


Opening (Identify main ideas from the text.): 1

  • Which phone is most interesting? Explain.


Core (Analyze textual details.): 3-5

  • If you were asked to put these phones into 2 (or 3) categories which ones would be grouped together? Why?
  • What qualities do these phone have in common? How do they differ?
  • Put these phones in chronological order? Explain your thinking for that order?
  • -Once the phones are in the “right order” – What problem were people trying solve with each new innovation?
  • Which innovations might have been the hardest? The easiest?
  • What would the advantage of ____ phone have been? What are the disadvantages?
  • How did material technology affect how the phones changed over time?


Closing (Personalize and apply the textual ideas.): 

  • How has phone innovation changed the lives of people?


Post-Seminar Process

  • Have participants do a written self-assessment of their personal participation goal.
  • Do a group assessment of the social and intellectual goals of seminar.
  • Note reminders for next seminar.


Post-Seminar Content 


  • Transition to Writing: What ideas did you read or hear that gave you a better understanding of the ideas/values of seminar?



  • Writing Task: How is phone innovation like other technological innovations of the past? (stone to iron age)?



Design Process, Prototyping, and Presentation

Student groups use knowledge gained from previous lessons to brainstorm, prototype, and finally present their ideas about how advances in materials and technology can lead to human innovation. Students draw correlations between their constraints, struggles, and innovations in our "paper age" to the Stone Age, "cardboard age" to the bronze age and "digital fabrication age" to the Iron age.

The entire lesson plan can be seen in the attachment “3 Column Map”


  • (Fab-Modeling.1): I can arrange and manipulate simple geometric elements, 2D shapes, and 3D solids using a variety of technologies.
  • (Fab-Fabrication.1): I can follow instructor guided steps that link a software to a machine to produce a simple physical artifact.
  • (Fab-Safety.2): I can operate equipment in a Fab Lab following safety protocols.
  • (Fab-Design.2): I can participate in design reviews with prepared presentation materials as well as give and receive feedback from peers.

Lesson Feedback

One Response

  1. LizWhitewolf January 11, 2021
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