According to the article, the first long-distance message Samuel Morse sent on the telegraph was "What hath God wrought?" What message would you have sent? Why?
Were you surprised to learn that a telegraph was connected to the development of modern computer languages? Why or why not?
If Jean-Maurice-Émile Baudot's code was better and faster than Samuel Morse's original code, why do you think people today still learn and use Morse Code instead of Baudot Code?
Think about the many changes and improvements to the telegraph in the 1800s and the constant stream of computer innovations we experience today. How are these situations different? How are they the same?
- As a class, compile a list of different types of communication devices people use today. Encourage students to think about everything from the loudspeaker or television that delivers the school's morning announcements to satellites that bounce messages from a base on Earth to astronauts in space.
- Guide students to understand that even for common devices, such as their smartphones to work, many steps are involved. And as complicated as the system is, it won't work if users violate the most basic rule: The phone's battery must be charged!
- Have students conduct research to identify different devices or systems of communication people have used throughout time. Encourage them to select one device or system to investigate further. How did it start? How has it changed? How is it used today?
- Based on what they have learned, challenge students to brainstorm ideas about what this type of device or communication system might look like in the future. Encourage students to draw a picture or create a model of their idea. Then have them write a brief summary explaining how the idea would work.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
The telegraph and telephone transformed American society and its economy. Watch this video from the National Museum of American History to learn how these important devices work.
Of all the devices that surround us, the cell phone may qualify as the most magical. Read this article from the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation to meet Martin “Marty” Cooper, the man who invented this game-changing technology.
Explore the history of telephones, beginning with Alexander Graham Bell’s experimental telephone, in this Smithsonian spotlight collection.
This website, produced by students from the University of Michigan, focusses on the communications of American and English spies during the Revolutionary War. The site, presented by the Smithsonian’s History Explorer, includes a gallery of eleven different spy letters, stories about spies during the Revolution, a timeline showing important dates relating to spying during the war and a collection of ideas for using the site in the classroom.
This lesson for high school students from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, focuses on the evolution of the telephone through the lens of user-centered design. Students will analyze the development of the phone by looking at select examples from the museum’s collection and then compare those artifacts to contemporary telephone designs.
In this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, high school students will become knowledgeable of new communication forums and techniques. Students work in small groups to design a product or system that helps people connect with one another.
Imagine that you could not talk to your friends or family for six months. Now, imagine that you are also floating 250 miles above Earth. What are some of the challenges you might face getting or receiving a message? Read this article from the National Air and Space Museum to find out.
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn about a new brain-computer interface that translates neurological signals into complete sentences.