Saturday, February 16, 2013


In the various fields our students are working in, there are so many new developments that will make items we use now obsolete. And I’m sure many of us can think of items we grew up with that are obsolete now.

An interesting website is Museum of Obsolete Objects:

Although the narrator’s voice might be a bit difficult for students to understand (sounds robotic), the clips are short (generally ranging from 1 to 2 minutes). The format of each object is a short description of the object and its use, then an example of it being used. These short clips are good examples of process descriptions.

An example: The typewriter (1829-1993):
“A typewriter is a mechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters, numbers or punctuation to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Example...”

Interestingly, the final object is the computer mouse, listed as obsolete since 2015 (not sure why this year was chosen). Would your students know when the mouse was invented (1964)?

The description is: “The mouse was a human-controlled pointing device that detected two-dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface. The mouse was used most commonly to control graphical user interfaces of computer systems. Example.”

A total of 15 objects are pictured, ranging from the quill (obsolete since 1860) to the computer mouse.

Possible activities:
  • Students describe an object and its use, then compare it to the museum’s description.
  • Students think of other objects in their field that are now obsolete and create a description for this website.
  • Have students choose a current object and add an “episode of the future” (see example of Computer Mouse 2015).
  • Students can also research why a particular object became obsolete: what happened by the year of obsolescence listed?  Was the object no longer necessary for some reason, or was it replaced by something else?

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