Cell Phones

      Do you know what the word “cell” in “cell phone” means?  What year was the first cell phone made? Here’s a look at this amazing pocket-sized gadget that has changed our world. 1.  Which of these best matches the function of a cell phone? a) a walkie-talkie b) a computer c) a GPS d) a monthly drain on your bank account — up to $80/month. e) all of the above According to the Free Dictionary, the best answer is: e) all of the above. 2. What year was the first cell phone call made, and where? a) 1962       b) 1973       c) 1986 According to CNN,  the first cell phone call was made by Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973 in New York City using a brick-sized phone. 3. Why is it called a “cell” phone, anyway? The cell refers to the 10-mile or so honeycomb-shaped regions created by special antennas that communicate with each other. As you move, your call is passed from antenna to antenna, like swinging from one vine to the next vine. The more antennas your town has, the better your call. See a map of your town’s registered antennas at http://www.cellreception.com (enter the name of your town). Learn more about the science of the cells at http://www.privateline.com/mt_cellbasics/. 4.  What’s the difference between a smart phone and a cell phone? According to http://btcomputersystems.wikispaces.com/cellphones, smart phones have the additional ability to access the Internet with Wi-Fi, and they can have apps installed on it. 5. What is the world’s smallest cell phone? The most expensive? The Modu phone is just larger than a pack of gum, described at http://techcrunch.com/2008/02/07/modu-revealed.  We found a gold-plated, diamond-studded phone at http://bit.ly/pmommK that costs $3.2 million. Don’t drop it in the pool! 6. Here’s some fun things you can do with a cell phone. APPLICATION 1: Cell phone tear down.Find an old cell phone and tear it apart, like they do with this video (here). See if you can find the following components: the battery, screen, keyboard, antennea, microphone, speakers and microprocessors. Make sure to dispose of all the parts properly. APPLICATION 2: Design your own cell phone. Go to EdHeads and play the Design a Cell Phone activity. You’ll learn about the challenges of designing a cell phone that people can use. 7. Travel back in time. Visit Time Photos at Time.com for a photgraphic History of the cell phone. 8. Want more? Visit Children’s Technology Review’s playlist (below), to view select YouTube videos based on topics in this month’s column. http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL4AA97058015D479E&feature=player_embedded&v=z7r8sKzt7HM

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