Science Literacy Lessons

1. Share this bit of history with students. On Dec. 12, 1901, Guglielmo Marconi was working with using electromagnetic waves to send signals. In 1901, the quickest way to communicate was via telegraph and that required wires and Morse Code. (a series of taps representing letters to spell out words.). Marconi had previously been able to send a message a distance of 18 miles without using any wires. In 1900 he got a patent for his invention. Then, in 1901, he sent the first wireless signal across the Atlantic Ocean.

He said:

Shortly before midday I placed the single earphone to my ear and started listening. The receiver on the table before me was very crude -- a few coils and condensers and a coherer -- no valves, no amplifiers, not even a crystal. But I was at last on the point of putting the correctness of all my beliefs to test. The answer came at 12: 30 when I heard, faintly but distinctly, pip-pip-pip. I handed the phone to Kemp: "Can you hear anything?" I asked. "Yes," he said. "The letter S." He could hear it. I knew then that all my anticipations had been justified. The electric waves sent out into space from Poldhu had traversed the Atlantic -- the distance, enormous as it seemed then, of 1,700 miles -- unimpeded by the curvature of the earth. The result meant much more to me than the mere successful realization of an experiment. As Sir Oliver Lodge has stated, it was an epoch in history. I now felt for the first time absolutely certain that the day would come when mankind would be able to send messages without wires not only across the Atlantic but between the farthermost ends of the earth.

As your students can see, Marconi's experiment changed the course of the world of communications. Have students find a communication device advertised in today's news. They should write an essay about how they predict that device will change over time.

Common Core Standard: analyze ideas