The dough machine

[Episode 14 | 1878 : Henry]

Franklin and Henry invent 'The spoon cranking dough churner', which explodes when they fail to take into account the fact that dough expands when heated.


The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [2]

Activity 1: Inventions that changed Australia
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Inventions and electronic media

The late 19th century saw significant changes in the way basic items such as food and clothing were manufactured. Successful new inventions helped save time and increased productivity, allowing many more items to be made and sold. These changes expanded economic growth and had a major influence on how people lived.

  • Ask students to consider how technology and technological inventions have changed people's lives and the manner in which we work. Ask students to research and find examples of Australian inventions, for example, the Coolgardie safe or the stump-jump plough. In a small group, have students develop a timeline and list the inventions in time order along the timeline. 
  • As a class, discuss how inventing new machines needs new ideas and creative thinking. Inventors usually set themselves a problem that they try to resolve through design and new ideas, testing them, producing the most successful items and marketing them to the general public. Some inventions don't always work or are too ahead of their time.
  • Ask students to individually research one famous Australian inventor. Make sure they answer the questions: 
  1. How did the inventor make their discovery?
  2. Did they experience many setbacks in the invention process?
  3. What did they produce, when, where, and how?
  4. What impact did the invention have on how people lived and worked in the era of the invention?
  5. What other inventions did they produce?
  • The following website may be useful:

Power House Museum, Australia Innovates,

  • Once students have completed their research work, have students create a vodcast or prepare an oral presentation with them acting in the role of the inventor. Students should explain the history behind their invention, and why it changed the world. Students should include pictures, diagrams and models to aid their presentation.
  • Provide students with Student Activity Sheet H14.3 Inventions that changed Australia for them to create a first-person dialogue introducing their inventor.


Activity 2: Staple foods
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Food; Inventions and electronic media

Bread is a staple food or a basic item that most people consume every day. In this activity, students investigate how the production, manufacture and distribution of staple food items such as bread, milk and fruit have changed since Henry's time.

  • As a class, ask students to think about the food they eat. They should list up to ten items of food that they usually eat. Ask students to consider:
  1. How has the food been made? 
  2. What types of machines are used to grow, manufacture and transport this food? 
  3. How has food production changed since Henry's time? 
  • Ask the students to research one basic food item that they eat regularly. The research should investigate the following questions:
  1. How has the amount of time spent making these items changed over time?
  2. How have the number and quality of these items changed over time?
  • Refer to the following websites for more information:
  1. History of the Bread Industry in Australia,
  2. The Story Behind a Loaf of Bread,

  • Ask students to create a concept map with an image of the staple food in the centre, for example potato, wheat, milk or meat. Using the image, they are to explore how the food has been grown, harvested, sorted, refined, manufactured, packaged, transported, distributed to shops, sold and stored at home. They could either find images of the different stages and processes or draw them on the chart. Additionally, they should look at how the same food was treated in Henry's time, that is, in the 1870s.
  • As a class, display and share the students' charts. Discuss the comparison between the way the food item has been produced in the past and the way the food item is produced today.


Student Activity Sheet H14.4: Staple foods

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