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Yesterday's Tomorrow

On December 28, 1959, LIFE Magazine published the following two page spread in its year end edition. Clicking on it will open a larger version in a standalone window. Click here to open a PDF copy (suitable for printing). Thanks to the Google Books scanning project, the complete issue that contains this two page spread is available for reading online at http://books.google.com/books?id=e1UEAAAAMBAJ&source=gbs_all_issues_r&cad=2

Day 1

  1. Print a copy of the above image for each of your students.

  2. On the reverse side of each sheet you print, print a copy of this student worksheet.

  3. Distribute one sheet to each student. Review the instructions.

  4. Allow them 5-10 minutes to work individually to complete the sheet. You may explain that they will have a chance to discuss their work in small groups once they've finished working individually.

  5. At the end of the specified time period, divide your class into groups of 5.

  6. Give each group 2 clean copies of the student worksheet.

  7. Instruct each group to select a leader and a recorder, then attempt to reach consensus on 3 predictions to place in each category. Have the recorder in each group prepare two sheets with the final group results; one to submit and the other to use to report to the entire class. Allow 10-15 minutes for the groups to complete their work.

  8. Reconvene the class and allow a representative from each group to report its results. Create a master sheet reflecting the class consensus.

  9. Distribute copies of my list of those that came true, and those that didn't. (coming soon)

  10. Some questions you might want to discuss:

Day 2

In its February 1989 edition, LIFE Magazine published the following two page spread. Clicking on it will open a larger version in a standalone window. Click here to open a PDF copy (suitable for printing).

  1. Print a copy of the above image for each of your students.

  2. On the reverse side of each sheet you print, print a copy of this student worksheet.

  3. Distribute one sheet to each student. Review the instructions.

  4. Allow them 5-10 minutes to work individually to complete the sheet. You may explain that they will have a chance to discuss their work in small groups once they've finished working individually.

  5. At the end of the specified time period, divide your class into groups of 5.

  6. Give each group 2 clean copies of the student worksheet.

  7. Instruct each group to select a leader and a recorder, then attempt to reach consensus on 3 predictions to place in each category. Have the recorder in each group prepare two sheets with the final group results; one to submit and the other to use to report to the entire class. Allow 10-15 minutes for the groups to complete their work.

  8. Reconvene the class and allow a representative from each group to report its results. Create a master sheet reflecting the class consensus.

  9. Distribute copies of my list of those that came true, and those that didn't. (coming soon)

  10. Some questions you might want to discuss:

Resources to supplement and extend this activity

Between 1903 and 1969, scientists and other experts made hundreds of predictions in Popular Mechanics magazine about what the future would hold. Their forecasts ranged from ruefully funny to eerily prescient and optimistically utopian. Here are the very best of them, culled from hundreds of articles, complete with the original, visually stunning retro art. They will capture the imagination of futurists in the same way Jules Verne's writing did a century earlier. Every chapter features an introduction by astrophysics professor, science-fiction author, and former NASA advisor Gregory Benford.

PAST PREDICTIONS OF OUR FUTURE INCLUDE:

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original web posting: Thursday, July 30, 2009
last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2011