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Visions of the Future
Getting Started

Through economic depression, total war, and postwar prosperity, many Americans viewed science as a positive force for change and the promise of a brighter future. Today, science-based technologies are at the center of public policy discussion. Earlier visions of a world transformed by science have been tempered by the very real changes in American society. The progress of the twentieth century has demonstrated that the “world of tomorrow” was not as uncomplicated as the promoters of the 1939 World’s Fair envisioned.

In Step 1 of the lesson plan, students are asked to evaluate past predictions of the use of science-based technologies, and to identify how some science-based technologies have been practically applied. Step 2 invites them to make predictions of the future use of technology and to design a mock-up of a world’s fair. Step 3 asks them identify natural materials that were replaced by science-based materials. In Step 4, they identify science-based materials that have come into widespread use and consider how they have changed American society.

Note: This is an archival publication dating back to 1995 and any supplements or suggestions for off-site education may not be available.

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Visions of the Future

Art to Zoo is produced by the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. Teachers may duplicate the materials for educational purposes.

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