Lesson Summary


Through presentations, videos and discussion, students discover how technology has been changing and brainstorm ideas for how the next generation will have a different relationship with technology than the current generation. Students will also learn the relative measures of computer storage (KB, MB, etc.)

This is a prelude to the idea of big data and the impact of technology.


  • Students describe some of the ways that technology has been changing
  • Students brainstorm ideas for how the next generation will have a different relationship with technology than the current generation
  • Students compare the relative measures of computer storage 


1. Introduction (5 min) - Students journal about the different relationships each generation has with technology.

2. Activities (40 min) - Students practice organizing by relative size and create posters to demonstrate learning.

3. Wrap-up (5 min) - Posters are shared with the class.

Learning Objectives

CSP Objective

Essential Questions

  • How can computing and the use of computational tools foster creative expression?
  • How can computing extend traditional forms of human expression and experience?
  • How does computing enhance human communication, interaction, and cognition?
  • How does computing enable innovation?

Teacher Resources

Student computer usage for this lesson is: none


PowerPoints (in the Lesson Resources folder):

  1. Unit0_Lesson2_The Information Age How Big.pptx
  2. Unit0_lesson2_TheFuture.ppt

Students should have paper for taking notes. (If desired, use preprinted Information Age Notes, in the Lesson Resources folder)

Print out "Relative Measure Word Strips to cut" papers and "Measure Quantity Word Strips to cut" papers (in the Lesson Resources folder) and cut them into strips to give to students for the activity.

8 big sheets of big poster paper to place at the front of the room labeled:

  1. communication
  2. education
  3. automation (robotics)
  4. privacy 
  5. entertainment
  6. transportation
  7. medicine & health
  8. the Internet

Post-it notes for students

Lesson Plan

Introduction - Journal and Discussion (5 min)

1. Journal: How were computers and technology different one generation ago?

2. Pair and share journal ideas, compile a class list. (Ideas you might suggest if they’re stuck: bigger, slower, less storage, less portable, not inside of so many other things, not as pervasive, less voice ability, less connection to the Internet, phones weren't very smart, more expensive, Previous generation: land lines, stand in one place when talking on the phone, separate cameras, internet via phone modem, no GPS, etc.)

3. Prompt students to come up with their own definition of what "1 generation ago" means. (Now a generation is considered to be about 25 years. A century ago it was about 20 years - from Ancestry.com)
{optional question for thought/discussion: Why were generations shorter a hundred years ago? ( don't tell them the answer, try to lead them to ask each other good questions to guide them to an answer: shorter lifespans, more death from disease, younger marriage age http://www.ancestry.com/cs/Satellite?childpagename=UKLearningCenter%2FLearning_C%2FPageDefault&pagename=LearningWrapper&cid=1265124426382 )}

Activities: (40 min)

Part 1 (3-4 min)

Hand out mixed up relative measure papers (a document with strips to cut is in the Lesson Resources folder) to 8 students.

  • In order: kilobyte, megabyte, gigabyte, terabyte, petabyte, exabyte, zettabyte, and yottabyte.

Ask them to try to line up by relative size at the front of the room to display the terms from smallest to largest. Ask if the class agrees, make changes by group vote. Don’t tell them if they're right yet. Tape or post the strips to the front wall. 

Teacher Note: Be sure to get students' names and introduce them as part of the goal of developing a classroom community of learners. Continuously encourage positive social interactions. 

Part 2 (3-4 min)

Hand out the 8 papers with measured quantities (a document with strips to cut is in the Lesson Resources folder).

  • In order: a picture the size of your fingernail, a small novel, a symphony recorded in high fidelity sound, the whole library of congress, 5 years' worth of the data recorded by NASA earth orbit satellite, all the words ever spoken by humankind written down, all recorded TV broadcasts and movies stored as video, and amount of data the National Security Administration can store.

Ask those students to try to match themselves up with the relative measure papers. Give the class a chance to rearrange by group vote. Tape or post the strips to their relative measure paper. 

Part 3 (10 min)

  1. Present the PowerPoint: Unit0_Lesson2 The Information Age. How Big. 
    • Have students take notes on the correct sequence of relative measures. (Use blank paper or Student notes for The Information Age How Big) Rearrange paper strips at the front of the room as needed to match the true order. (5 min)
  2. Show the video: The information age. Big Data is Changing the World (3:51)
  3. Have groups try to guess how many people used the Internet each day in 2000 and now, how many searches were done each day on Google in 1998 and now. (3 min)
  4. Show the video: 2:31 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGYmML0e0X4 Exalogic: Ready for the Future by Oracle (only show the first 1:14)

Part 4 (20 min)

  1. Present the PowerPoint Unit0_Lesson2 The Future. 
  2. Group students in 3's or 4's. (max of 8 groups)
    • Groups brainstorm: What new technology might the next generation have?
      • Ask them to think of how technology will be different for the next generation in each of these categories: communication, education, automation (robotics), transportation, medicine and health, the Internet, privacy, and entertainment. Write at least 10 ideas for each group on post it notes, 1 idea per post it. (5 min)
      • Note: 1 generation is about 25 years, so the previous generation was born around 1975 and went to high school around 1990. You were born around 2000, and are in high school now. The next generation will be born around 2025, and be in high school around 2040. 
  3. Place large posters at the front of the room. Take turns having groups contribute 1 post it note at a time and explain their ideas. (5 min)
    • Groups get 1 point for each unique idea that gets posted.
    • The group with the most points, when all notes have been posted, chooses the poster they want to work on. The group with the 2nd highest score chooses next, etc.
  4. Groups design a visual artifact on their poster: a labeled drawing, concept map, cartoon (stick figures are fine), or some other visual to describe life for the next generation. Encourage students to do something visually appealing, creative, interesting, or informative. ( 10 min ) 

Wrap-Up (5 min)

Display the posters created by the class, share details and ideas from the posters.

Additional Activities if Time Permits:

  1. Show a video on a possible work world of the future: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yWzKvQXsYM (5:51)
  2. Discuss what ideas are the same/different from the ideas that students shared.
  3. Have a vote on the posters for most creative, most unique, best detail, etc.

Options for Differentiated Instruction

Instead of having students move to the front of the room to sort the paper strips into order, you could print a set for each group of 3-4 students and have them match and arrange them at their desks.

If students have a strong interest, or if you have extra time, use the ideas in "Extensions to the lesson on the Future of Technology" document located in the resources folder.

Evidence of Learning

Formative Assessment

Self-checking exercise on identifying storage terms (KB, MB, etc.)