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Technology design, systems, and information processing Concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)

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

Beginning (preschool - 7 years)


  1. People use objects and ideas to solve problems.
  2. People can't always make what they design.
  3. Some materials are better than others for making particular things.
  4. Materials that are better in some ways (stronger, cheaper) may be worse in other ways (heavier, harder to form).
  5. Steps are usually involved in making things.
  6. Tools are helpful when making things.
  7. Some things can't be made with out tools.
  8. Each kind of tool has a special purpose.
  9. People use different devices and media to communicate or send and receive information.
  10. A variety of different materials (paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, metal) can be used with a variety of tools (hammers, screwdrivers, clamps, rulers, scissors, hand lenses, and audio-visual equipment) to make simple constructions.

Intermediate (7 years - 11 years)


  1. There is no perfect design.
  2. Solutions for one problem may cause another and create trade-offs in designs.
  3. Even good designs may have flaws or fail.
  4. Material can be processed or combined with others to change their properties.
  5. Through science and technology people have created materials with a wide range of properties (steel, rayon, crystals).
  6. Discarded materials contribute to the waste problem.
  7. Many materials can be recycled or the amount of waste can be decreased with better production methods.
  8. Through mass production the time and cost of making something can be reduced.
  9. Most things in the world are made with automated machines that require people to run.
  10. Simple tools and materials can be used to make simple mechanical constructions and repair things.
  11. Measurement in the kitchen, garage, or laboratory can help in construction and being safe.
  12. Written documents that describe detailed observations, ideas, and predictions can be understood weeks or months later.
  13. Calculations of length, area, volume, time, cost, weight, can he helpful in making decisions.
  14. Safety should always be of primary concern.
  15. Audio and video equipment can be used to capture information.
  16. Patterns can be used to encode information, which can be sent, received, and decode if it is to be understood.

Literate (11+)


  1. Designs have limits that are based on physical properties of matter, energy, society, personal, and other conditions.
  2. Waves can be used to transmit digital information.
  3. All designs and technologies may have effects that were not anticipated.
  4. Almost all systems have inputs, outputs, and feedback.
  5. Digitized information is a pattern made with on and off current or 1s and 0s.
  6. Digital information can store large amounts of information which can be stored and shipped.
  7. Control is requires sensing information, processing it, and making changes.
  8. Systems fail because of poor design, selection of materials, use that exceeds design expectations, while testing and redundancy is used to reduce failure.
  9. The choice of materials for a task depend on the properties of the materials and how they will contribute to the successful production of the product.
  10. Manufacturing requires a series of steps (design, obtaining and preparing raw materials, processing the materials, assembly, testing, inspecting, packaging) that are important.
  11. Modern technology reduces production costs and produces a more uniform product.
  12. The use of synthetic materials can reduce the depletion of natural resources.
  13. Automation has change the nature of work (higher skills, knowledge of technology, engineering , quality control, supervision, maintenance).
  14. Computers can be used to store information.
  15. A variety of instruments can be used to measure, length, temperature, volume, mass, weight, elapsed time, rate, and reported with appropriate units to help in design and building.
  16. You can inspect a device by taking it apart, looking at the parts, and reassemble it to see how it works.
  17. You can also make changes and see the results.


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes