Extending Human Ability through Technology

Extending Human Ability through Technology


In this lesson, you will examine some of the ways that people have used technology to enhance or expand upon human abilities.


Go to Barbie Legs from Science Update. You should read the transcript. Think about the answers to these questions:

  • How did the idea for improving the prosthetic finger develop?
  • What have researchers learned from studying Barbie's knees? 
  • In this story, how is technology used to extend a human capability? 
  • Can you think of other technologies, or medical interventions, that are used to extend human capabilities? 
  • What would life have been like before these technologies were invented?

Explore the Invention Dimension website for more examples of adaptive technologies. Consider these questions as you explore the various inventions:

  • What limitation does this technology help humans overcome?
  • How will this technology enhance and extend human ability?
  • Are there other technologies that address the same limitation?
  • How did the invention of this product come about?
  • Who is the technology specifically designed for?
  • What materials are used?
  • How might this product be marketed?

Your teacher will assign you one of these technologies to investigate:

As directed by your teacher, work as a group to complete the background information on the assigned technology. Prepare a short presentation for classmates on the following:

  • How the product or device works
  • How the product or device is modified or adapted to overcome a human limitation
  • How the product or device enables the user to do something that they were unable to do or had difficulty doing without it
  • How the product or device can be further modified to make it even more useful

Knowledge Check

Athletes today run faster, jump higher, and hit harder. As nutritionists, physicians, trainers, and sports psychologists push the boundaries of human ability, engineers and scientists are making sure the equipment they use keeps pace.

From athletic shoes to high-tech protective gear that has saved countless lives, engineering has made many contributions to the world of sports. To find out more about this, read The Changing Face of Sports.

Write a brief essay in support of or against the increasing use of technology in the arena of sports. The essay should include some examples of how human function has been enhanced by technology and whether this has had a positive or negative effect on sports competition.

This esheet is a part of the Extending Human Ability through Technology lesson.

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