notebook image

Technology Concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)

Misconceptions (Explanations, Naive understanding, Misconceptions, or Perceptual responses)

Beginning (preschool - 7 years)


  1. Technology can be used to build or improve something.
  2. Humans make technology to do things.
  3. Tools are a part of technology and they are used to do things better, easier, and things that could not be done otherwise.
  4. Tools are used to make better observations and measurements.
  5. Some objects occur in nature (natural objects); others have been designed and made by people to solve human problems and enhance the quality of life (design or man made).
  6. Drawings and simple models can be used to plan technology.
  7. People help other people to make and improve things.

Intermediate (7 years - 11 years)


  1. Technological design heuristic: Identification of a problem; propose a solution with respect to cost, materials, time, space, and safety; implement a solution with respect to any constraints identified during the proposal step; evaluate the design and product with relation to solving the problem and make modifications as necessary or desired.
  2. People have always had questions about their world.
  3. Science is one way of answering questions and explaining the natural world.
  4. Trying to determine the effects of solutions helps people avoid some new problems.
  5. Scientists and engineers often work in teams with different individuals doing different things that contribute to the results.
  6. This understanding focuses primarily on teams working together and secondarily, on the combination of scientist and engineer teams.
  7. Technologies have improved the standards of life (food production, sanitation, disease prevention, and people with disabilities).
  8. Women and men of all ages, backgrounds, and groups engage in a variety of scientific and technological work.
  9. Tools help scientists make better and more accurate observations, measurements, and equipment for investigations.
  10. They help scientists see, measure, and do things that they could not otherwise see, measure, and do. Perfectly designed solutions or products do not exist.
  11. All technological solutions have trade-offs, such as safety, cost, efficiency, materials needed, benefits, liabilities, appearance, and other variables.
  12. Engineers often build in back-up systems to provide safety.
  13. Risk is part of living in a highly technological world.
  14. Reducing risk often results in new technology.
  15. Some consequences can be predicted, others cannot.
  16. Throughout all history people everywhere have invented and used tools.
  17. Many of today's tools are modifications of yesterday's tools.
  18. Technology helps extend the ability of people to change the world: cut, shape, put together, move from place to place, reach farther, increase senses, communicate, and think for survival needs such as food, water, shelter, and defense.

Literate (11+)


  1. People have always had problems and invented tools and techniques (ways of doing something) for scientific inquiry and technological design.
  2. The two have similarities and differences.
  3. Scientists propose explanations for questions about the natural world, and engineers propose solutions relating to human problems, needs, and aspirations.
  4. Technologies exist within nature and so they cannot contravene physical or biological principles. Technological solutions and technologies they have side effects, costs, carry risks, and provide benefits.
  5. Many different people in different cultures have made and continue to make contributions to science and technology.
  6. Technology is essential to science, because it provides instruments and techniques that enable observations of objects and phenomena that are other wise unobservable due to factors such as quantity, distance, location, size, and speed.
  7. Technology provides tools for investigations, inquiry, and analysis.
  8. Science and technology are reciprocal.
  9. Science helps drive technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated instruments and provides ideas for better instrumentation and technique. Technological designs have constraints that engineers, architects, and others must take into account to solve practical problems.
  10. Some constraints are unavoidable, for example, properties of materials, or effects of weather and friction; other constraints limit choices in the design, for example, environmental protection, human safety, and aesthetics.
  11. The knowledge base for science is recorded in print and electronic media and can be found and understood by people in and out of classrooms


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes