Develop an online exhibit about Chicago's water pollution problem in the 1800s.

In the Chicago task, students help The Smith Museum build an online exhibit for middle school students about how Chicago addressed its water pollution problem in the 1800s. Students review the exhibit to ensure it is clearly communicated.

Content Areas: Technology and Society, Design and Systems
Practices: Understanding Technological Principles, Developing Solutions and Achieving Goals, Communicating and Collaborating
Learn about content areas and practices
Task Time: 30 minutes
Assessment Year Used: 2014

Students understood that societal factors drive technological development but were less able to recognize how those factors impact technological decisions and solutions.

62%
of students understood stakeholders' interests and priorities.
21%
of students correctly identified the reasoning behind a technological decision.
44%
of students were able to explain the unintended consequences of a technological solution.
Explore task details by selecting a step below
Step 1
History of the Problem
Learn about the causes of the water pollution problem and create a graphic about key historical developments.

40% of students understood the cause-and-effect relationships among technological factors.

What Students Did

For this step, students review historical information to understand the causes of the water pollution problem in Chicago in the late 1800s. Students explore a diary and letters from a person who lived in Chicago during this time and complete a cause-and-effect concept map.

Skills Measured

  • Reasoning about causal relationships important to understanding society and technology issues.

Student Performance

40% Complete
All three correct matches
45% Partial
One of three correct matches
15% Unsatisfactory
No correct matches

Related Experience from Student Survey

72% of Students
reported learning about inventions that change the way people live, as part of their school work, at least sometimes.
Step 2
Ideas for Solving the Problem
Match different points of view about how to solve the water pollution problem to appropriate stakeholders.

62% of students understood the competing interests and priorities of various stakeholders.

What Students Did

In this part of the task, students create a multimedia matching game to show that people in Chicago had different views about the water pollution problem and how to solve it. Students review statements depicting four different points of view and then need to match each point of view with the appropriate stakeholder.

Skills Measured

  • Evaluating the interests and priorities of stakeholders involved in society and technology decisions.

Student Performance

62% Complete
Three or four stakeholders correctly matched
21% Essential
Two stakeholders correctly matched
12% Partial
One stakeholder correctly matched
5% Unsatisfactory
No correct matches

Related Experience from Student Survey

74% of Students
reported learning about choices people make that affect the environment, as part of their school work, at least sometimes.
Step 3
Engineering a Solution to the Problem
Edit a video showing the engineering design solution to the dirty water problem.

32% of students could accurately edit a video of the engineering design solution to the dirty water problem.

What Students Did

In this section of the exhibit, students need to analyze which audio clips best explain the steps Chicago took to solve the dirty water problem. Students first review an animated map illustrating the components of the design solution and then match the audio clips to each segment of the illustration to complete the video.

Skills Measured

  • Analyzing as an initial step for designing or troubleshooting a system.

Student Performance

32% Complete
All four correct selections
28% Satisfactory
Three correct selections
14% Essential
Two correct selections
13% Partial
One correct selection
13% Unsatisfactory
No correct selections

Related Experience from Student Survey

68% of Students
reported they could use tools or materials to fix something.
Step 4
Reasoning Behind the Design Solution
Identify which statements from experts help to best explain the decision to reverse the flow of the river.

21% of students were able to identify statements that best explained the decision to reverse the flow of the river.

What Students Did

In this part of the exhibit, students need to explain why Chicago chose to reverse the flow of the river rather than trying other solutions. To accomplish this, students evaluate statements from four leaders in Chicago during the 1800s and select the ones that help explain the decision.

Skills Measured

  • Knowing ways in which social forces drive development of new technologies and how technology impacts society.

Student Performance

21% Complete
All four correct selections
30% Partial
Three correct selections
48% Unsatisfactory
Two or fewer correct selections

Related Experience from Student Survey

61% of Students
reported learning how to judge the reliability of sources, as part of their school work, at least sometimes.
Step 5
Consequences of the Solution
Explain the unintended consequences of the technological solution.

44% of students were able to use evidence to explain the unintended environmental consequences of building the canal.

What Students Did

This part of the exhibit is about the unintended consequences of technology. Students review information about the spread of invasive carp, a problem created by building the canal. Students need to explain the connection between building the canal and the spread of the carp.

Skills Measured

  • Reasoning about causal relationships among social, environmental, and technological factors.

Student Performance

44% Complete
Clear explanation supported by evidence
56% Unsatisfactory
Vague explanation without evidence

Related Experience from Student Survey

61% of Students
reported they could compare how different activities affect the environment.
Step 6
Identifying the Main Idea of the Exhibit
Choose a quote that best expresses the main idea of the exhibit.

62% of students selected the quote that best described the main idea of the exhibit.

What Students Did

In this last part of the task, students select a quote that best expresses the main idea of the exhibit. They review four quotes and need to select the one that best sums up how the exhibit illustrates the relationship between society's needs and the development of technologies designed to meet those needs.

Skills Measured

  • Knowing ways in which social forces drive technological development and how technology impacts society.

Student Performance

62% Correct
Correct quote selected
38% Incorrect
Any other selection

Related Experience from Student Survey

56% of Students
reported they could describe how inventions change society.
A Closer Look: Students' Understanding of How Technological Solutions are Developed
Ten percent of students could evaluate stakeholders' priorities in technological decisions, analyze a design solution, and identify social forces driving technological development.

Follow the left-most series of blue disks.

Task Step 2 (Question 2): Evaluating the interests and priorities of stakeholders involved in technological decisions.

62% of students understood the competing points of view of stakeholders.

Task Step 3 (Question 3): Analyzing as an initial step for designing or troubleshooting a system.

26% of students understood stakeholders' competing points of view and accurately edited a video illustrating the engineering solution to the dirty water problem.

Task Step 4 (Question 4): Knowing how social forces drive technological development.

10% of students understood stakeholders' competing points of view, accurately edited a video illustrating the solution to the dirty water problem, and identified statements that best explained the technological decision to reverse the flow of the river.

Chart of 2 disks: left disk indicates 62% correct. Right disk indicates 38% correct.
Chart of 4 disks. From left to right: Disk indicating 26% Correct, disk indicating 36% partially correct/unsatisfactory, disk indicating 6% correct, disk indicating 32% partially correct/unsatisfactory.
Chart of 12 disks. From left to right: Disk indicating 10% correct, disk indicating 8% partially correct, disk indicating 8% unsatisfactory, disk indicating 8% correct, disk indicating 11% partially correct, disk indicating 17% unsatisfactory, disk indicating 1% correct, disk indicating 2% partially correct, disk indicating 3% unsatisfactory, disk indicating 3% correct, disk indicating 9% partially correct, disk indicating 20% unsatisfactory.