The Radio Times* is running a poll to find out what people think are the best British inventions, you can find the list here. The short texts are ideal for scan type reading activity.
I used a running quiz format, where students in pairs/threes took turns to run to where the lists were laid out on a table and return with the correct answer without taking the questions with them. I dictated the questions which they had to write down and also gave them 15 mins to do the activity, you can of course adjust this depending on students’ level.
Questions with answers:
1. How many inventions happened before the 20th century? 32
2. How many vacuum tubes were used for the Colossus computer? 1500
3. What and when was the most recent invention? Steri-spray in 2008
4. What was the key invention for the textile industry? Spinning Frame 1768
5. How many inventions are not products but ways of doing things?** 3, Float glass, Bessemer Process, Cement
6. What percentage of today’s power stations use steam? 75 percent(3/4)
7. Who invented something while locked up? William Addis , Toothbrush, 1770
8. What invention relied on a previous invention by a French person? Tin Can
9. Who thought of an invention whilst in the bath? John Shepard Barron, ATM
10. What invention helped to catch a criminal? Electric telegraph
For some questions I also awarded bonus points if they could answer with any further details e.g. Q4 the year the spinning frame was invented.
You can use the list in a cleaned up version in .odt format 50 British inventions if you don’t want any of the pictures from the Radio Times link.
At the time of this post Steri-Spray is leading at 27%.
Hope you enjoy the acitivity and don’t forget to add your vote!
* Shame about the commercial fundamentalism promoted in the commentary by Michael Mosely and the tired presentation that invention is an individual act.
** For question 5 I accepted that carbonating water could be seen as a process so the answer would be 4 processes including Soda water invention.