Can You Hear Me?
What wonderful item did Alexander Graham Bell invent? History and technology come together in this recycled construction.
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. 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. You can 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!
Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.
Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.
Recycled Foam Produce Trays—Wash in hot, soapy water. No meat or poultry trays should be used.
Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.
Wood—By its nature, wood is rough and may contain splinters or sharp points
- Write a skit to recreate the famous moment when telephone technology first worked. Present it along with other snapshots of moments of discovery that changed the world.
- Learn more about Aleck's deaf mother and the work his father did involving speech. Analyze how those early experiences may have influenced his life's work. Think about your early experiences and imagine how those will affect your adult life.
- In his lifetime (1847-1922), Aleck Bell was granted 18 solo patents plus 12 for shared work. Research some of his other inventions, including the hydrofoil. In what else was he interested?
- For older students: Bell founded the National Geographic Society in 1888. What are the similarities between inventors and explorers? What about teachers? Bell always listed his profession as "teacher of the deaf." In what ways are these professions connected?
- Debate the argument that inventions happen in a laboratory. What is the effect of other inventions upon the process of discovery? Could the telephone have been invented without telegraph technology? What other inventors helped to make Bell's invention path clear? Could there be computers without telephones?