Egypt's Golden Empire
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Lesson 8
The Science and Technology of Ancient Egypt

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In this lesson, students will learn about many of the key scientific and technological contributions made by the ancient Egyptians. Individuals and/or pairs will research topics related to these contributions and create three to five minute presentations about what they have learned along. They will also prepare three trivial questions that will be used as part of a class game related to the content presented by each group.

Subject Areas:

World History, Social Studies, Science, and Communication Arts students.

Grade Level: 6-12

Lesson Objectives:
Students will:
  1. Use their prior knowledge of ancient Egypt to identify what a group of items has in common.
  2. Participate in a class discussion about the significance of ancient Egyptian inventions such as the scarabs and the use of papyrus in recording a library of knowledge.
  3. Conduct research about a specific ancient Egyptian scientific or technological contribution and create a project that can be used to teach others about this invention and its impact on the ancient Egyptians and modern societies.
  4. Prepare three quiz questions to be used as part of a challenge game to test student comprehension and retention of what they have learned about various ancient Egyptian inventions.
  5. Compete against one another in teams using their recall skills to answer questions about significant ancient Egyptian inventions.
  6. Compose a written response to a question asking them to compare and contrast the lifespan and usefulness of ancient Egyptian inventions versus today's modern ones.
Relevant National Standards:

MCREL Compendium of K-12 Standards addressed:

World History
Standard 3: Understands the major characteristics of civilization and the development of civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley.
Standard 5: Understands the political, social, and cultural consequences of population movements and militarization in Eurasia in the second millennium BCE.

Historical Understanding
Standard 1: Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns.
Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective.

Standard 13: Understands the scientific enterprise.

Language Arts

Standard 1: Uses general skills and strategies of the writing process.
Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes.

Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.
Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts.

Listening and Speaking
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

Working with Others
Standard 1: Contributes to the overall effort of a group.
Standard 4: Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.

Estimated Time:

This should take three 90-minute class periods or five 50-minute class periods, plus additional time for extension activities.

Materials Needed:
  • Video clips necessary to complete the lesson plan are available on the Egypt's Golden Empire Web site. If you wish to purchase a copy of the program, visit the PBS Shop for Teachers [].
  • Honey, glassware, paper, a calendar, a newspaper, cosmetics, and a bottle labeled "medicine" for teacher use: table display.
  • Internet access for completing research activities.
  • Science and Technology Project Guide [Download PDF here (96k). Requires free Adobe Acrobat.], part of this lesson plan.
  • Assorted art, craft, and drawing supplies.
  • Three index cards for each person/pair.
  • Ancient Egyptian Trivia Game Score Sheet [Download PDF here (80k). Requires free Adobe Acrobat.], part of this lesson plan.

1. To get students interested in learning more about some of the scientific and technological contributions made by the ancient Egyptians, place the following items on a desk or table top in the front of the classroom: honey, glassware, paper, a calendar, a newspaper, cosmetics, and a bottle labeled "medicine". Ask students a question such as:
  • What do all of these items have in common?
Allow students one to two minutes to hypothesize and discuss what all of the items have in common. If no one is able to identify that all of the items on the table were things that were invented or discovered by the ancient Egyptians, tell the students that is what the items have in common.

2. To further peak student interest in the scientific and technological contributions of the ancient Egyptians, have them view the video clips Episode 3: Ramesses Records History [watch clip, duration 2:25] and Episode 2: Amenhotep's Newspaper [watch clip, duration 1:10]. Take time to discuss why production of the first newspaper and the creation of a library of knowledge were such significant inventions/contributions for the ancient Egyptians.

3. Explain to students that they will study a specific topic related to ancient Egypt. They will use content from the Egypt's Golden Empire Web site along with the Related Resources in this lesson plan.

4. Using the topics from the list provided below, or additional ideas of your own, write each of the topics on a separate slip of paper and place these papers into a container. Ask students or pairs of students to randomly select one.

Suggested Topics: scarabs (newspapers), papyrus (paper), mummification, astronomy (calendars), medication for treating disease, surgical procedures, dentistry, glass-making, cement, sails, irrigation systems, canals, locks, ink, metal piping/plumbing, cosmetics and personal grooming products, plows, air cooling systems, oil lamps, postal system, writing/alphabet, number system/counting, beekeeping, surveying, other (teacher generated).

5. After all students/pairs have drawn a topic, distribute the Science and Technology Project Guide [Download PDF here (96k). Requires free Adobe Acrobat.] in this lesson plan to each student. Review the requirements for successful completion of the project and allow students class time to research and construct their project.

6. When projects have been completed, provide each student/pair with the opportunity to present their project to the class. Each student/pair should have three to five minutes to make their presentation.

7. As each student/ pair completes his/her presentation, they should submit their Ancient Egyptian Trivia Game questions to the teacher.

8. When all presentations have been completed, students should be placed in groups of four to compete in the Ancient Egyptian Trivia Game. Playing the game will test student recall of factual information related to each presentation. It will also give students the opportunity to work in small groups to discuss what they have learned so they can answer questions correctly.

9. Distribute the Ancient Egyptian Trivia Game Score Sheet [Download PDF here (80k). Requires free Adobe Acrobat.] in this lesson plan to each group of students. Have them record their names on the score sheet. Once this is done, follow the procedures outlined in the directions and play the game as a class.

10. After the game has been played, collect the score sheets from each group and reward the group who has earned the most points (optional).

11. As a follow-up on what has been learned, ask students to write a one to two paragraph response to the following question:
  • Many of the scientific and technological contributions made by the ancient Egyptians are still in use today. While they have been perfected and improved, the basic idea behind their use remains the same as it was over 3,000 years ago. Think about the newest inventions of today, and discuss what, if any of these, will still be in use 3,000 years from now. Be sure to discuss why some contributions have a longer lifespan and are more useful than others.
Assessment Suggestions:
  • Assign participation grades for class discussion activities.
  • Accuracy grades could be given for the creation of the Science and Technology Project and a scoring guide or point check list could be used for this.
  • A completion grade could be given for presenting the Science and Technology Project.
  • A participation, completion, accuracy grade, or a prize could be awarded to each team for its work on the Ancient Egyptian Trivia Game.
  • Students could receive a letter or percentage grade on the written response activity.
Extension Activities:

1. Take a field trip to a local museum that exhibits ancient Egyptian artifacts. Examine examples of various tools, artwork, glass, writing, numbers, and other science and technology related to the ancient Egyptians. Compare what you see to the research you conducted and look for additional inventions that you didn't know about previously.

Related Resources:

The Web site has an Ancient History page [], which discusses the creation of a 24-hour day and a constant calendar of 365 days. also has a section on Egyptian Math [], which has information and drawings about the Egyptian number system.

The Minnesota State University Web site has a section on Ancient Egyptian Medicine [], which provides information about the types of medicine practiced in ancient Egypt. There is also a list of remedies used to treat specific conditions.

There is also a section on Egyptian Astronomy [], which looks at the creation of calendars and the study of time. Information about the pyramids is also included.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News Web site has a report which explores the discovery of a glass-making site in ancient Egypt []. It also examines the methods used for producing the glass. has a section on the Discoveries and Inventions of Ancient Egypt [], which provides a list of scientific and technological contributions made by the ancient Egyptians.

The Museum of Science has a section on its Web site, Ancient Egypt: Science and Technology []. This has detailed information about the mummification process used in ancient Egypt.

Eternal Egypt []
has links and information related to science and technology in all areas including arts and crafts, science, agriculture, commerce and trade, government, and society and culture.

(Require free Adobe Acrobat.)

Egypt Lesson 8: The Science and Technology of Ancient Egypt (124k).
Science and Technology Project Guide (96k).
Ancient Egyptian Trivia Game Score Sheet (80k).

Related Links:

New Kingdom   New Kingdom
Virtual Library   Virtual Library
For Educators

National Standards

- Lesson 1:
  Hieroglyphs and   Communication

- Lesson 2:
  Tombs and the Afterlife

- Lesson 3:
  The Queens of Ancient Egypt

- Lesson 4:
  Egypt's Greatest Leaders

- Lesson 5:
  Architectural Marvels

- Lesson 6:
  A Day in the Life of an   Egyptian

- Lesson 7:
  Touring Ancient Egypt

- Lesson 8:
  The Science and Technology
  of Ancient Egypt

Egypt's Golden Empire