HS 419 Innovations in History: WWII, Space Exploration, the PC

dsmith@innovationcharter.org  Mr Smith   Room 245              

Extra Help: Tuesdays 3-4 or by appointment.

Innovations in History

Course Overview

I like living at the intersection of the arts & technology   -Steve Jobs


Innovations usually begin life with an attempt to solve a specific problem, but…end up triggering other changes that would have been extremely difficult to predict –    Steven Johnson


POTSDAM Declaration Essay and Research Assessment :

PBS Victory in the Pacific [ American Experience]


The Atomic Archives      [see ‘Science’ & ‘History’ tabs]




                [Presentations: Fri Feb 27   Joe Bradley,Sarah Brassil]

http://time.com/3594971/the-25-best-inventions-of-2014/       Time Magazine      Inventions of 2014

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/innovation/about.html                     PBS Innovation Series

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/technology/index.html?         NY Times Science & Technology              

www.popsci.com/tags/invention-awards-2014 Popular Science Inventions  2014

www.nasa.gov                                                                     NASA web site

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/science/profiles-in-science-series.html?_r=0   NYT Profiles in Science

http://aeon.co/magazine/science/                                        Aeon Magazine/Science

World War II's Greatest Hero: The True Story of Alan Turing


Essential Questions:     How does Innovation happen?                                How did the Allies win World War II? Is space exploration necessary or valuable? Who invented the PC? 

    Historical Topics :  World War II (1938-1945), US-Russian Cold War relations, the Apollo space program in the 1960’s, and the ideas and innovations of Steve Jobs.  How was Atomic energy harnessed? How did we land a man on the moon? What made possible the personal computer? This elective course will explore 20th century American history through three major periods that transformed both the US and the world: the Atomic Bomb, the Apollo space program, and the Personal Computer revolution.  We will study two major historical eras:  the causes and history of World War II with a special emphasis on the Manhattan Project, the Cold War culture of post-war America that created the conditions and mission of the Apollo space program in the 1960’s. The PC revolution of the Apple computer in 1984 will be the third major unit. A biographical study of Steve Jobs and systems thinking tools will be used to understand and evaluate a key essential question of the course: How does innovation happen?  A field trip to the Museum of Science is scheduled for the spring. Key Resources will be the PBS series How we got to Now, excerpts from The Right Stuff (Tom Wolfe) and The Innovators (Walter Isaacson).              The course will end with an independent Biography/Research project on the 21st century that will advance research and problem solving skills.  What are the significant problems and challenges of the 21st century?  Who are the innovators and designers of Life in the 21st century?  What inventions and technologies are shaping the future? How does scientific innovation happen?

KEY TEXTS/RESOURCES:   The Innovators, by Walter Isaacson    How We Got to Now, by Steve Johnson (PBS); American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,  Chapters 21-22

Course Overview- See Course Calendar for Assignments/Project dates

January -Feb 2015

 Introduction:   Systems Thinking & Innovation                              ‘The Robot Historian & Hummingbird’s Wings’                                       How we Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World   (2013)  Chapter 1~Glass

As we May Think, Vannevar Bush (1945)


Unit I  WWII & Atomic Bomb 1939-1945

EQ:   How did the Allies win World War II? Was the Atomic Bomb necessary to end WWII?


Exam #1   Essential Knowledge WWII History/Manhattan Project 

                 Decision Making: Should the US use the Atomic Bomb?                                                                        Systems Assessment #1: How was the Atomic Bomb developed?                          

February-March 2015


Unit II  Apollo Space Program 1957-present

Essential Question:   What were/are the causes and effects of space exploration? Is space exploration necessary or valuable?


 Exam #2    US and USSR : The Space Race of the 1960’s                                   Astronauts:  The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe

Museum of Science: Field Trip  : What is the future of space exploration?  “From Dream to Discovery: Inside NASA Engineering”


March –April 2015

Unit III  The Personal Computer 1945-present

EQ:   Who invented the PC? How does scientific innovation happen?


Reading/Research:  The Innovators, by Walter Isaacson (Ch 2 The Computer and Ch 8 The Personal Computer)

 Discussions and Systems Thinking PresentationsBiographical Study: Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson [excerpts]


April-May 2015

Unit IV  21st Century Challenges and Innovations

EQ:  What are the major challenges and problems of the 21st century?

Who are the innovators and designers of life in the 21st century?      What inventions and technologies are shaping the future?

 Final Assessment:  Independent Inquiry & Research  [Research/Enduring Understanding]

Identify a Topic and Problem; Develop Research Questions; Present Findings


 Academic Integrity: Academic honesty and integrity are essential school and classroom culture.  All students are expected to complete and hand in their own work.  Cheating and plagiarism (presenting another person’s ideas or words as your own) will not be tolerated.  Consequences include receiving a zero for a plagiarized assignment, being asked to redo the assignment for no credit and/or a failing grade for the course.  Please see the Student Handbook for more information.

One major way to avoid plagiarism is to properly cite other people’s work.  The Humanities Department IACS uses the MLA (Modern Language Association) format for citation.  If you’d like to have an easy resource on how to properly use MLA, refer to the Online Writing Lab of Purdue University (www.english.purdue.edu).