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Sometimes it feels as though technology is moving so fast that it’s hard to keep pace. But has that always been the case on the larger scale of human history? What does our technological timeline look like?

In this lesson, students use timelines of important technological milestones to calculate the time between major events and look at how those times have changed over thousands of years in order to make predictions about the future of our technological world.

Students will

  • Represent the difference between dates as distance on a timeline
  • Use subtraction to calculate the distance between two integers on a number line
  • Interpret the absolute value of a number as its distance from zero on a number line
  • Calculate the distance between positive and negative integers as the sum of their absolute values
  • Informally examine how the amount of time between major technological innovations has changed over time
  • Make predictions about the future of communications and travel based on past developments

Before you begin

Students should be able to calculate the time it takes to travel a given distance at a constant speed, (i.e., apply the relationship among distance, rate, and time to solve a problem in context). The main goal of the lesson is to provide context for the subtraction of positive and negative integers.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices


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