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Unit Summary

The project allows students to investigate the history of scientific discoveries and their impact during the Renaissance. As reporters, they research and collect data about scientists, analyse the context and present their findings in the form of an interview of the scientists. Students prioritise and rank the different scientific inventions in order of its impact on human lives using Visual Ranking Tool. As a culminating activity, students propose an invention to make our life better.

Curriculum Framing Questions

  • Essential Question
    How can science contribute in human progress?
  • Unit Questions
    How inventions impact human lives?
    Is necessity mother of all inventions?
  • Content Questions
    Who was Copernicus?
    What were his major scientific findings?
    What was Gutenburg’s contribution to the world of scientific inventions?
    How did James Watt change the course of the history of trade and industrialization?

Assessment Processes

View how a variety of student-centered assessments are used in the Eureka Unit Plan. These assessments help students and teachers set goals; monitor student progress; provide feedback; assess thinking, processes, performances, and products; and reflect on learning throughout the learning cycle.

Instructional Procedures

Prior to Instruction

  • Prepare a handout on the story of Peter, who accompanied Marco Polo.
  • Prepare a discussion sheet ‘How is it different today
  • Prepare a multimedia presentation with details of the project
  • Prepare a How is it different today? sheet for discussion
  • Collect pictures of several scientists (eg Galileo, James Watt, Newton, Luis Pasteur and others)
  • Collect interview clippings from magazines and newspapers
  • Collect video clips of interview of scientists, historic figures
  • Prepare a Research guide handout
  • Set up Visual Ranking project and assign groups
  • Prepare Visual Ranking instruction handout for students
  • Collect clippings of interviews from magazines and dailies
  • Arrange for the English language teacher to introduce dialogue writing and interview strategies to student.
  • Prepare an interview checklist
  • Arrange for the computer teacher to introduce basic applications like word processing and multimedia presentation to the students.
  • Prepare invention assessment tool

Period 1
Start the class by distributing the handouts and narrate from Peter’s Diary (doc), the story of a young boy, who accompanied Marco Polo in his journey and faced numerous difficulties on the way. The story brings out the attempts of voyagers to bridge the gap between the East and the West through sharing of knowledge, wealth and other resources. It also highlights the hazards they had to face during their long travels. Read aloud the story as the students follow it through the text.

Divide the class in small groups (maximum of 6 in each group) and ask students to elect a group leader and a recorder to record the discussions. Select a presenter to share the group’s observation during big group discussions. Instruct students to maintain the same group throughout the activity, but change responsibilities to give a fair chance to all.

Distribute the handouts on “How is it different today”? (doc) Have students discuss in small groups and note down their thoughts in the sheet. Facilitate equal participation of students during these discussions.

After students have discussed in their small groups, have a large group discussion. Facilitate the students to discuss why and how things would have been different if Marco Polo was to undertake the journey today, bringing out the importance of scientific inventions which has made life so much easier. Ask “How can science contribute in human progress?” have students note down their responses.

Period 2
Put pictures of several scientists (eg Galileo, James Watt, Newton, Luis Pasteur and others) in the class and orient students about the project using multimedia presentation (ppt). Make students sit in their respective groups, discuss the project and clarify doubts if any. Facilitate the discussions constantly to ensure participation from all. Define and redefine the roles and responsibilities in the group, considering the resource and gifted students in the class.

Now, the students take on role of reporters of a channel Travel in Time which reports on events of the past. As reporters they have to research on any one inventor/scientist using the research guide (doc). Ask students to concentrate on research and collect relevant information about the inventor/scientist as reporter’s prime job is to collect information through various ways, check whether its relevant or not and then think about the best way to present it to the audience.

Period 3-4
Provide time for students to research and support the groups wherever needed. Help students focus on following points while conducting research:

  • What was invented/discovered by the scientist and why?
  • How the invention has changed human life?
  • Is the particular invention used now in the same form or has it changed/improvised?

Make students compile the information in the form of a research report and discuss the same within their group. Have students self assess whether they have covered all the questions in the research report. Provide feedback to students on their research and point out anything that needs more research.

Period 5-6
Start preparing students for the interview. Put some interview clippings from magazines and newspapers on the notice/display boards. Distribute small clippings of interviews from magazines and newspaper to give them an idea on how to conduct interviews.

Optional: Arrange for some video clips of interview of scientists and make students go through in the audio video room.

Orient students that one of the group members would take on the role of interviewee who will be role-playing as the scientist/inventor they have researched on. Other group members will take on role of interviewers who will pose questions. The entire interview should not take more than 10 minutes and has to be balanced in a way that all students get an opportunity to talk and present their views. Share an interview checklist (doc) with students to prepare them for interview.

Period 7-8
Guide students to finalise a general set of questions in groups which should focus on the interviewee’s life, his/her major inventions, under what circumstances he/she invented, what was the impact and whether the particular invention is used now in the same form or it has changed/improvised? The questions should also try to reveal how the inventions have influenced our present day, thus answering the unit question ‘How inventions impact human lives?’

Guide students on dialogue writing (with help from the language teacher) and also help them to keep in mind the social status, language difference etceteras between the characters. The script should be interesting and the events in history should be correlated. Have students write a script of the interview. Ask students to assign roles within their group and make copies of the script, so that the characters may learn the dialogues by heart before the next class.

Important: Instruct students that they would have an activity after the interview where they have to know about all inventors, their inventions and its impact on human life.

Make students rehearse the interview and facilitate the students to get into the shoes of the characters by suggesting acting techniques, intonation etceteras. All the while, care must be taken to keep the interview simple without unnecessary frills.

Period 9-10
Finalise Set /props/music or any other details and assign responsibilities. Dress need not be very detail. Mere suggestions related to the age, social status and the time should be enough. For music, instead of instruments, children could create sound effects by, e.g. humming or crooning.

Invite the Principal of the school and other teachers for the interview by the students. Students have to perform the interview (doc) with the whole class as an audience. If possible, invite other classes to join in. Help students to set up an appropriate backdrop, dress up according to characters and make seating arrangements for the audience.

Have students peer assess based on the interview checklist. Make students hand over the assessment tools at the end of the day.

Period 11-12
Before proceeding with the next activity, set up the “Eureka” Visual Ranking Project in the teacher workspace. Make sure all inventions which have been presented in the class are included in the list. Introduce the Visual Ranking Tool using the demonstration space at Try the Tool. Show students how to rank and compare lists, and how to describe items and explain their relative merit using the comments feature. Handover set of instructions (doc) for using visual ranking tool to students. Provide the groups with group ids and passwords.

Students prioritize and rank the inventions in order of how they have improved peoples’ lives. The tool activity should spark lively discussions among group members and apply criteria to evaluate the lists.

Have students log in to their Visual Ranking work space. Review with students the prompt for this project: Rank these inventions in order of how they have improved peoples’ lives. As students rank the inventions remind them to explain their reasoning for each item by using the comments feature of the tool. As students sort their lists, listen to their discussions and ask questions to help groups negotiate, make choices, and express their thinking. Questions such as the following can prompt students to elaborate on their thinking:

  • Why have you ranked the bottom 3 and the top 3 the way you have?
  • How did you decide that this invention is more significant than that one?
  • How does this invention help people?
  • How do you think this invention changed the way people live?
  • What kinds of things did this person need to know in order to create the invention?
  • Would you consider this a successful invention? Why or why not?

Examine the Visual Ranking Activity
The space below represents one team's ranking using the Visual Ranking Tool
Project Name: Eureka (Click here to set up this project in your workspace)
Prompt: Rank these inventions in order of how they have improved peoples’ lives

After students finish the exercise, have them compare their lists with the lists that were ranked by the other student groups. Direct students to read comments about each invention. Have students discuss why their lists are alike and different. Suggest that they identify the groups that ranked items most and least like they did. Have similar and dissimilar groups meet to discuss their rankings and rationale behind the order. Encourage groups to revise their thinking based on the things they learn from other groups.

Period 13-14
Inspire students to think about these inventions and inventors. Orient students saying that it’s their chance to make history by proposing an invention which they would like to invent in order to make our life better. Any small invention whether it is helpful for school, their family, etc will be counted as invention. Give options to students that they can present their invention in form of a written proposal, model, drawing, or in form of multimedia presentation.

Provide time for students to think about the need of hour, their surroundings and make them brainstorm in groups about what they would like to invent. Facilitate groups who need help by providing Kids Invention (doc) and encourage them to think of any thing. Motivate students by reinforcing that any small thing too is counted as invention and is worth thinking about. Display posters (doc) around the class for providing tips to students. Share invention assessment tool (doc) and make students understand the criteria clearly.

Period 15-16
Support students in making drawing, multimedia presentation, written proposal or model of their invention. Closely monitor each group to check their progress and support where needed.

Arrange for a Eureka fair for students to display their inventions. Invite parents, other class students, and teachers to the fair. Encourage students to make hand-made cards for their parents and teachers and invite them personally.

Have students put up their models, multimedia presentations (ppt), written proposals, and drawings in the display area.

Make students reflect on their project and answer the question “How can science contribute in human progress?” in an essay. Have them write about their experience of entire project.

Prerequisite Skills

Conceptual Knowledge
Basic knowledge about some scientific inventions and discoveries

Technological Skills

Fundamental skills of basic computer operations and ability to use word processing and power point

Differentiated Instruction

Resource Student

  • The end objective should be made clear.
  • Extra time and more attention should be allowed.
  • Self assessment integrated with the activities to assess where they need to improve.
  • Extra reading material and discussion time with teacher.
  • Closely monitor progress and support with extra worksheets.

Gifted Student

  • Assign additional responsibilities like they will ensure that the activities as well as the objective of the activities are clearly understood by all.
  • Make them responsible for active participation of each team member.
  • Make them play a lead role in organising the interview and eureka fair.


This project idea has been developed by Ms. Malini Mukherjee. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.


At a Glance

Grade: 5-8
Subject(s): Social Studies, English (Grammar), Science
Topic: Science in the progress of man
Higher-Order Thinking Skills:
Relate, Analyze, Compare & Contrast, Propose, Assess, Problem Solve, Convince, Predict, Manage Complexity, Time Management, Collaboration, Interactive Communication, Interpret, Create, Invent
Key Learnings: Some major contributors of modern day science, Importance of inventions and discoveries in the history of human civilisation
Time Needed: 18 Periods