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: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [2]

Activity 1: Technology in 1878 and today
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Subtheme(s): Character; Chores, business and employment; Inventions and electronic media
  • Ask students to use examples from the clip to respond to the following questions:
  1. In what year do you think this clip is set? (Inform students that it is set in 1878.)
  2. How old do you think Stanley might be?
  3. How does Stanley feel about school?
  4. Why is Stanley working in the bakery? 
  5. How does Stanley feel about this work?
  6. Is Stanley pleased to see Henry and Franklin? Why or why not?
  7. What does Stanley think about the boys' inventions?
  • Ask students to work with a partner, and to use Student Activity Sheet E14.3 Technology in 1878 and today, to list forms of technology they recall seeing in the clip. Allow them to replay the clip to check their memories, to add technologies they had not recalled and to record who uses the technology, whether it is used today, and if not, what, if anything, has replaced it.
  • Students could use the internet to find out the ingredients and steps involved in making a loaf of bread. Display and discuss websites located by students, reminding them to think about which sites might be more reliable than others. Select two or three websites that provide simple recipes. Have students work in small groups to choose a recipe and create a flowchart of the bread-making process.

  • View the clip again and ask students to identify the part of the process that Henry and Franklin had not understood when they created their dough machine.
  • In the same small groups have students plan what they need to make a loaf of bread, using their flowcharts. Students may need help from home to bring in the utensils required and to purchase the ingredients listed on their shopping list. Have a class bake-off and tasting session.
  • Ask each student to create two job advertisements, one for 1878 and one for today, that list the skills and qualities required to be a baker. Display the posters and have a class discussion about how students have used different features on their posters to highlight the requirements of the job.


Activity 2: Avoiding invention problems
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Inventions and electronic media; Language and scripting
  • Ask students to examine the still photograph that shows a labelled diagram of Henry and Franklin's 'spoon cranking dough churner'. As a class identify features of the plan that help the boys to build the machine.
  • Play the clip and direct students' attention to the way the boys use specific language and prior knowledge about other forms of technology to build the dough churner. For example, Franklin suggests a crank to turn the mechanism, and Henry suggests they use beaters like those found on a butter churn.
  • Henry tries to convince Stanley that his invention is the future, that there will soon be machines everywhere. How does Henry describe the machine? What else does he say to try to convince Stanley to agree to show the machine to his father?
  • Stanley's father Cornelius is initially very pleased with the boys' invention. As a class, list the features and qualities that please Stanley's father. Have each student create a poster that could be enlarged as a billboard advertisement to highlight positive features of the dough machine.

  • Discuss Henry and Franklin's different views about avoiding problems with their inventions. Franklin is concerned about possible problems with their invention and says more than once that they should test its operation. What does Henry mean when he calls Franklin a 'wet blanket'?
  • Ask students to view the clip again to find out when the boys first discover there is a problem with the invention. Have students complete Student Activity Sheet E14.4 Avoiding invention problems and record answers to the following questions:
  1. How do Henry and Franklin first realise there is a problem with the invention? 
  2. What is the problem? 
  3. Why did the problem occur? 
  4. How could the boys have avoided this problem?
  • What do you think Henry and Franklin should have learned about being inventors, based on their experiences with the dough machine and their previous inventions?
  • Students could work with a partner to re-design the dough machine so that it works safely. Ask them to draw a labelled diagram to explain their ideas.


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