IEEE REACH (Raising Engineering Awareness through the Conduit of History) recently launched a beta website with free lesson plans—inquiry units—for high school social studies teachers that focus on how technology affects society, culture, economics, and politics throughout history.
The website was launched in December during the annual U.S. National Council for Social Studies conference, in Washington, D.C. REACH’s program manager, Kelly McKenna, and Michael Geselowitz, senior director of the IEEE History Center, gave a presentation about the program to conference attendees. Joining them were teachers who participated in a pilot of the program last year at Manalapan High School, in New Jersey.
The site is in beta mode because it currently includes only three inquiry units: early maritime navigation, the printing press, and ancient triremes. More inquiry units will be added throughout the year, according to McKenna
The REACH team is looking to get feedback from teachers to ensure that the website meets their needs. To submit comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
REACH resources, developed by the IEEE History Center, “provide students with an opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills,” McKenna says, adding that the program engages the students “in the socially relevant ways in which technology, innovation, and engineering can transform society. It also offers them a new lens through which they may view engineering and technology as relevant to their lives and their future.”
The presenters gave attendees a tour of the website, highlighting videos, hands-on-activities, and primary sources, which are original documents and objects that were created during the time period being studied. The Manalapan High School teachers shared their experiences of using the inquiry units on maritime navigation and the Greek triremes.
Hundreds of people stopped by the REACH exhibit booth to check out the website and learn more about the program. Tom Daugherty, a preuniversity social studies curriculum coordinator from Greensboro, N.C., said REACH is a perfect fit for his school’s world history program. “It aligns with the drive toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and gives social studies a stake in that,” he said at the event. “I also think it will be exciting for students to study world history from new perspectives. I’m very interested and can’t wait to share it with teachers.”
“The response from this event was overwhelmingly positive—attendees were enthusiastic about REACH and had many questions,” McKenna says. “It fills me with gratitude and joy to know that the resources we’ve created are resonating with the teachers.”