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Resources for the NOVA/Stem Award

For the NOVA/Stem Tech Talk award, Scouts must read and/or watch an hour of content related to technology and society. Here are a few suggestions for online resources that you might find helpful.

When they’re done watching and reading, Scouts working on the award requirements should:

  1. Make a list of at least two questions or ideas from what you read and watched.
  2. Discuss two of the questions or ideas with your counselor.

Videos (all should be free)

The American Experience — Edison: The Impact of Technology on Society.

Imagine the world when electric light was first introduced, and reflect on the impact that new inventions have on ordinary people in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Edison. In late 19th-century America, machines were ushering the country into the modern world. But with the awe and wonder that radical change provoked, technology also brought a certain amount of anxiety to ordinary people. This resource is part of the American Experience collection. Caution: This video includes the use of the word “hell.”

The American Experience — Edison: Invention Laboratory in Menlo Park.

Discover how Thomas Edison’s invention laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, and the team he hired to work with him, all fit into his vision of how he would become a great inventor in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Edison. In late 1876, Edison opened a fully equipped 5,000 square foot innovation laboratory that would provide him and a small group of experimental assistants and skilled machinists a place to invent. With all kinds of chemicals, organic materials, scientific instruments, and shop tools available to them, the men worked day and night, intent on figuring out things that nobody had yet thought of. This resource is part of the American Experience collection.

The American Experience — Edison: Electric Light.

Discover how Thomas Edison’s team built on past innovations to develop the first successful electric light bulb in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Edison. Edison announced he would start work on electric light in 1878, to address the problems with existing lighting options, which included gaslights and arc lighting. While many inventors had patented versions of the most promising technology, an incandescent bulb, no bulb could yet produce light for more than 15 seconds, let alone several hours. Edison used his fame to attract the funding needed for his team to test and prototype a solution. Their efforts eventually paid off. On October 22, 1879, a bulb fitted with a filament of carbonized cotton thread burned in Edison’s laboratory for more than 13.5 hours. This resource is part of the American Experience collection.

Modeling Truss Structures (short video):

Cantilever bridges like the Firth of Forth Railway Bridge may look complicated, but the principle on which they’re built is very simple. In this video segment from Building Big: “Bridges,” David Macaulay describes the forces at work in a cantilever bridge and explains how the bridge’s design uses some of these forces to create a very strong and stable span. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades K-2 students.

Technology: Virtually Martha. (12 minutes)

In this MARTHA SPEAKS video, follow Martha as she takes a made-up journey inside Alice’s computer. Students learn how computers can be used to communicate with other people and explore how to attach files to an email, store files in a folder, and send emails to others through a computer.

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