I have been in conversation through email with someone to explore the concept of Technological Systems a bit more, the following is part of a response.
http://technology.tki.org.nz/Resources/Case-studies/Classroom-practice-case-studies/Teaching-practice/A-dairy-farm-as-a-technological-system This was the third focus
http://technology.tki.org.nz/Resources/Case-studies/Classroom-practice-case-studies/Teaching-practice/Night-lights-as-technological-systems This was the second focus
http://technology.tki.org.nz/Resources/Case-studies/Classroom-practice-case-studies/Food-and-biotechnology/Tech-systems-for-year-3-4-students-Hydroponics This was the first focus
You will see that these give a good indication of the breadth of work that can be covered within technological systems. The research showed that it was better to start with simple systems such as a toaster than anything too complicated (e.g. a computer) as a starting point.
Its a good idea to read the explanatory paper too
Hope that this helps in your deliberations.
I am going to pull apart the first one of these, Hydroponics,The students explored everyday objects as technological systems.
Through their work in the hydroponics unit, the students:
- came to understand that a technological system transforms an input into an output
- were able to identify the components of a hydroponic system
- were able to identify the benefits of such a system.
These are the achievement objectives of level 1 and 2, as described in the resource. Getting students to understand inputs and outputs are important early on in coding, students should also be able to identify components.
With the help of another PowerPoint presentation, the children were introduced to various simple systems and to the terms input, output, and transformation. The children then chose one of these systems, drew a sketch of it in their books, and labelled it. Many chose the popcorn maker, perhaps because it was the simplest to understand. http://technology.tki.org.nz/Resources/Case-studies/Classroom-practice-case-studies/Food-and-biotechnology/Tech-systems-for-year-3-4-students-Hydroponics
Students worked through to identify a variety of different activities and what each one could be classed under:
One of the ideas through the resource is getting student to look at Rube Goldberg machine, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rube_Goldberg_machine
A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970).
here are some videos that could show a Rube Goldberg machine, This is one a kid designed, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uDDEEHDf1Y
Ok Go, a band take the Rube Goldberg machine to the next level through their music videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m86ae_e_ptU
Getting students to understand what happens in the background may not always be the best opportunity for learning. Having students come up with ideas on what happens in the background can open up other opportunities for learning.