Lesson Plan History of Technology

Modern technology and science may have arisen in the West over the past four hundred years or so, but this development was based on inventions and insights from right around the Old World (or Eastern Hemisphere).

Here’s a lesson plan idea you may like to adapt:


Divide into small groups. Each group takes one of the items on the list below. They draw a simple diagram which shows:

1. Where the invention/ insight first originated

2. When and how it spread

3. How it came to Europe.

Finally, they suggest how their particular invention/insight might have contributed to the rise of Western technology and science (they may have to use a little imaginations!).

(Students might find the Search function helpful – just enter one word at a time. However, be aware that this is typical Google search function – even though restricted to the Timemap of World History – and so throws up quite a lot of irrelevant stuff as well as the relevant.)


Writing and alphabets

Paper and printing

Gunpowder, firearms and guns

Decimal system and algebra (Students should know that, before the arrival of the decimal system and Arabic numerals, Europeans used Roman numerals to calculate with. Try doing some sums with that!)

Wrap up:

Groups give a brief presentation of their findings. A class discussion then addresses the question, which regions were most productive of new ideas and technologies? And when?

(You might wish to go on to discuss why different regions were productive of new ideas and inventions at different times, but if you do, be clear that that’s venturing into territory which historians are still debating.)

Back to AP world history page