Communication Theme: Time Capsule

    Today you have an opportunity to reach out to others in time and space. This is your chance to send a message to the future.
    Imagine that you have the technology to communicate knowledge of your civilization here on earth to unknown civilizations in worlds beyond you.
    Your message will serve as a diary of mankind. What information will you choose to communicate to unknown civilizations?
    Construct a "time capsule." Try to show glimpses of your civilization in a scrapbook. You may want to include: the environment (land, people, plant and life), entertainment (books, television, music, sports, art), technology, goods, and services. Record messages, either taped or video taped, that give "the others" sounds and sights of your culture.
    You may choose to work in teams in order to accomplish this mission.


Teacher Briefing: The purpose of this brief is to give students a unique opportunity to communicate with unknown civilizations.

 Materials for This Activity:  (Optional)
Cardboard (corrugated-storage boxes)
Bulletin board paper
Scrapbooks, construction paper of different colors
Magazines, home-journal and nature magazines
Recorder tapes or video tapes

Suggestions for Implementation:

1. Orientation. Discuss the "time capsule" brief in detail.  Remind students they are to construct a time capsule that will communicate knowledge of their civilization to "other" civilizations. Therefore, they must consider carefully what items they choose to include in their time capsule.

2. Getting Started. Have the class visualize an unknown civilization finding their time-capsule box. Inside the box are items representative of their culture: a scrapbook; written, visual, or auditory message; and objects. Remind the students that what they choose to include in their time capsule may be the only exposure this "other" civilization has to their culture.

3. Library Resources. At this point, students are encouraged to work in small groups of two or three students. Teams are sent to the library to find examples of their culture. Carl Sagan's books, especially Murmurs to Earth, contain excellent examples of messages Voyager missions sent into space.

4. Brainstorming. Have each team "brainstorm" a list of specifics that the group agrees to include in their time capsule.   A recorder within the group lists the specifics agreed upon by the group. Then the team discusses the rationale for including each specific into the "time capsule." If members can justify an item's inclusion, it is kept on the list. If members can not give good reasons to include an item, it is eliminated from the list.

5. Group Cooperation. Within the group, each team member is assigned a task. Each is to work on the three items--the scrapbook, the message, and the objects. Members choose from anyof the materials that the teacher has provided to complete their task. They are encouraged to bring in materials from home too.  One person can label scrapbook pages; another person can find magazine photos for the labeled pages; and still another person can trim and paste each photo into the scrapbook album.

6. Audio-visual Communication. Once the scrapbook is completed, have each team discuss and determine which media or combination of communication forms the group chooses to convey the message.   The message may be in written language, drawings, a tape recording, or a video taping. Depending on the age and skill of the team members, the teacher needs to provide more or less assistance.

7. Completion. The group project is finished when the members contribute at least one "personal" item from home to the time-capsule box. Encourage students to discuss "what" item and "why" they choose to include it in their time capsule with other team members and their parents before putting items in the time capsule.

8. Presentation. Have teams present their time capsules to the class. Have the members discuss "why" each item was included.

9. Evaluation. As a class, evaluate time-capsule presentations.   Encourage the class to offer criticism. It is best to agree upon  criteria before hand. Have the class generate the list of criteria. Did the time-capsule solve the problem by communicating to another civilization? Was the presentation well organized? Did each member take part in the presentation? Were the items included meaningful? Was the scrapbook, message and items included in the time capsule clear, concise, andappropriate?

Enhancing Other Concepts and Skills:

1.Social Sciences. This design brief offer teachers a wonderful opportunity to "apply" social studies concepts. The concepts of community; the environment; goods and services; and other cultural aspects studied in social studies can easily be incorporated into the time-capsule scrapbooks and messages.

2. Science Skills Make sure that students' time capsules include examples of the plant and animal communities as well as the human communities. This is also a good time to stress the effects of environmental pollution, not only on our global community, but the unknown effects on the universe. This could be a research topic for some students.

3. Language Elaborations. There is a natural extention of this "time-capsule" brief into the language areas of reading, writing,  and communication. Students will read lots to find out more about space; they will compose written messages; and they will use verbal and nonverbal communication skills to design and present their time- capsule projects.

4. Math. Students should measure the dimensions of their corrugated boxes to ensure that items fit into their time capsules. They should time their presentations so that they are no longer than fifteen minutes in length, so that all teams get an opportunity to present.

5. Community Resources. Invite a radio, television, or newspaper personality to tell the class about effective ways of communicating messages.

6. Current Events. Collect or record radio, television, or newspaper messages which are effective in communicating messages.  Imagine that students are reporters. Have them deliver the collected or recorded messages to the class.