Lesson Plans

Canada: A Changing Society – Home Refrigeration

Grade 8 | History, Language, Visual Arts; Grade 12 | History

Students investigate the impact of home refrigeration technology on Canadian society in the early 20th century. They research, develop, and present an advertisement designed to sell refrigerators to Canadians in the midst of the Great Depression.

About 4 hours class time

Lesson Plan   Student worksheet

Structures & Mechanisms – Mechanical Efficiency and the Home Refrigerator

Grade 8 | Science, Language; Grade 9 | Electricity; Grade 11 | Physics

Students investigate factors that contributed to the efficient operation of early home refrigerators and that affected the manufacturing of electric- and gas-powered refrigerators in the 20th century. They write an editorial for the local paper in 1927, supported with scientific facts, which discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the refrigerator for home use.

About 4 hours class time

Lesson Plan   Student worksheet

Life Systems – Interactions Within Ecosystems – What Happens When Bacteria Chill Out?

Grade 7 & 8 | Science, Language

Students investigate the factors that affect the balance among the components of an ecosystem. They perform an experiment, the “Yeast Balloon Blow-Up.” Based on the results, they write and present a public service announcement for the local radio station in 1930, telling citizens about refrigeration and its effect on bacteria.

About 4 hours class time

Lesson Plan   Student worksheet

Data Management and Probability – Technology Drives Change

Grade 7 & 8 | Mathematics, History

Students collect, organize, and analyze data from charts and tables. They use this data to develop a matrix describing the introduction and spread of domestic technology in the United States and Canada, between 1900 and 2000.

About 4 hours class time

Lesson Plan   Student worksheet

Student Activities

In these interactive files, you click on buttons to control the animation and understand how some aspects of refrigeration technology work. These animations require Adobe Flash Player.

  1. Bacterial Growth | Health & Hygiene

These short video clips show 360 degree views of technology artefacts from an early refrigerator. Each video shows the artefact rotating through a full 360 degrees so that front, back and both sides can be observed. These videos requireAdobe Flash Player.

  1. Piston from a compressor
  2. Internal view of an early thermostat


Canada Science and Technology Museum
  1. Background | Domestic Technology
  2. Lesson Plans and Student Activities
Curriculum Resource Bank (OECA & Education Network of Ontario)
This is a database of video resources that can be used in the classroom. If you are a teacher or administrator at any of the Ontario school boards or school authorities, you may register free of charge. (There is a nominal subscription fee for other educational institutions.) When you visit the site, click on the link for Ontario users. Once you have registered you will be able to stream and download more than 100 hours of TVO video, all indexed into learning objects and correlated to the Ontario curriculum. Registered teachers also have the opportunity to assign passwords to their students if they wish.
Video clips available on Refrigeration, Why Does Food Rot?, Evaporation and Condensation, & etc.
Thomas Edison’s Inventions in the 1900s: From New to You (NEH, USA)
The purpose of this lesson is to familiarize students with life and technology around 1900 in order to better understand how Edison influenced both. Through comparing and contrasting life and technology in the early part of the twentieth century with technology found in their own homes and experiences, students will gain a greater understanding of how far the fields of industry and entertainment have progressed since Edison’s day and of how Edison’s work was the foundation for technology they enjoy today.
The 1900 House – Lesson Plans (PBS, USA)
  1. Our Town. In this lesson plan students take a look at what life was like in their own towns during the 1900’s. They will explore why the town developed, its main industries, how people communicated, and daily life from work to leisure.
  2. Living Without Technology. In this lesson plan students will identify the modern technologies found in their own homes. Then they will agree to live without all of them for a day… and if they’re daring, for a week! By doing so, students will get a glimpse of what daily life was like in a 1900 home and come to understand how dependent they are on today’s technology.
The First Measured Century – Lesson Plans (PBS, USA)
Lesson plans relating to the measurement of American social life in the 20 th century.
Sanitation and Human Health – Science NetLinks (Marco Polo Education Foundation, USA)
In this lesson, students learn something about the ways that sanitation technology has helped people. They do this by examining the history of sanitation in the context of disease outbreaks and comparing the quality of life in those times to that of today. Students should recognize that advances in health and human life expectancy have resulted in large part because of technologies that we now take for granted, such as modern waste-disposal, sanitary food handling, and refrigeration.
Permission is given only for use of these resources consistent with the purpose and instructions for use outlined in them. HVACR Heritage Centre of Canada takes no responsibility for the use of these resources or the materials described therein. Sole responsibility for the use of these resources rests with the user.