Method Genealogy of an idea
Explore the family tree of an idea and trace the lineage of an idea. Be an ideas genealogist – learn who are originators, the idea pioneers and those who are the tribute acts.

A quick exploration of science books would reveal that there are many laws, definitions, and principles. The students might understand or learn it by rote. Many concepts in science are abstract in nature and one wonders how they originated. Tracing the history of how concepts developed and how they were formulated, reformulated, and over years how new paradigms evolved might make the abstract idea interesting. It also describes how scientists worked, their failures and multiple attempts thus humanizing science and giving a sense that is a hu(wo)man pursuit. It presents science as a hu(wo)man endeavour instead of idealizing it as something ‘out there’. (Indumathy, 2016)[i]

Suitable for small and large groups.

Aim To produce categories of ideas in history of science/art etc.
Target group Students of all courses and all study fields.
Intended learning outcomes
  • Ability to use tree structures to represent the diversity of ideas;
  • interlinking successive generations of diverse disciplines,
  • improved research skills
Explore the family tree of idea and trace the lineage of an idea that stirs you. Follow the inventors trail and get insights into their working methods and inspirations. Identify the people, institutions, organisations etc. that spread key ideas globally.

Draw up a family tree interlinking successive generations of one of the following disciplines: advertising, magic, photography, poetry, taxidermy, engineering or design.

Use the internet and/or traditional library resources to develop a short presentation on the invention/idea you chose. You might also want to develop a model from various materials (sticks, paper rolls, other household materials, etc.) to demonstrate what the invention looked like and how it worked. If such materials are not available, create a diagram with paper and pencil or use a computer to create a graphic, animation, or PowerPoint presentation.

Preparation Not necessary.
Resources and equipment Not necessary.
Success factors Enough resources (computers, books, internet connection etc.) available
Advantages Helps students in developing meaningful solutions to problems which leads to greater student understanding of the subject matter. Emphasis on the meaningfulness of the knowledge being shared.
Disadvantages Requires students to do some prior reading or research.
Additional information This lesson plan from Discovery Education entitled Tracing the roots of Modern History is a good example of an effective lesson plan.

[i] Indumathy, S. (2016). Digging into the past: Exploring history to teach science.

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