Use the ideas and resources below to create lessons and help students participate in activities which will enrich their clock design process as they learn more about the history of time keeping, the way clocks work, discover some individuals with the inventive spirit and find out about the process which helps protect creative or intellectual property.

In order to think about a new way to look at measuring time students may find it interesting to see how time has been measured, how our calendars have changed, and why the devices we use to mark time were developed.


What to Complete for the Project

Millennium Questions
History of Time Keeping
How Clocks Work

Unique Clocks
Student Online Creations
Patents to Protect new ideas
Inventors and Inventions



When does the new Millennium begin?

Help students find some of the discussions about when the new Millennium begins. Some say the new millennium began on January 1, 2000; others say it begins on January 1, 2001. Still others say the new millennium has already passed. The only thing that seems to be agreed upon is the actual definition of millennium, i.e., a thousand year period of time.

The links below will help answer the questions about the new Millennium. When does the new Millennium begin? Gives information about calendars and clocks and information to help you discover why the Millennium did not begin January 1, 2000.

When does the next millennium begin? See The White House Millennium Council's page for their answer at on this page is a count down clock. Millennium For Kids Count down until January 1, 2001. Visit the Millenniums Dome. Main page is located at

National Institute of Standards in Boulder, Colorado, at has information you might find useful as you discuss the need for standardizing time measurement.

The FAQ page at has some interesting information about general time questions such as "When does the next millennium begin?" and "How is the second defined?" Answers the question, "When is the Millennium?" Site includes a count down clock to the Millennium.

Information Please Almanac's Millennial Questions

Encyclopedia Britannica Millennium Article covers information on the Millennium Dome Greenwich.

Interesting explanations by a variety of folks about the Millennium and how to know when it begins. There are also links to articles in the Encyclopedia Britannica, the World Almanac, Information Please Almanac, World Book Encyclopedia and lots of other sites (over 300). They all agree the next millennium will start on January 1, 2001. The Millennium Fun Page - Count Down Clocks

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How have time keeping devices changed through history?

Students may suggest ideas about ways to indicate measures of time that they feel should be used that may not have been used before. They may brainstorm ideas about ways of marking periods of time which they think would be helpful in the future.

Take a look at these sites to discover the history of time and time keeping devices. These may help students devlop ideas for future time keeping devices:

Visit slide shows and sites that tell about clocks from the past : the Frick Electric Program Clock, The Seth Thomas Calendar Clock , The Synchrome Clock and the Empress Josephine Clock.

History of Clocks, Watches and Timekeeping at includes links to information about famous clockmakers, history of timekeeping standards and much more.

Three slide shows which help tell the story of time through history from ancient civilizations to present day from the Franklin Science Museum's resource on time.

Using electricity to keep time at Four lessons for beginners on what makes your electric clock work.

Links to clock museums at

Brief History of calendars, days of the week, months of the year at

Take a tour of time at and travel through links to solar time, time zones, atomic time, and more about the measurement of time.

A History of Clocks: From Thales to Ptolemy at gives information from very Greek times including a drawing of the water clock and celestial sphere.

Clocks and Time at /has links to history, clockmaking, publications organizations, newsgroups,museums and more dealing with time topics. Information about calendars

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How Do Clocks Work?

How do clocks keep time? is the question asked and explored in this show from Newton's Apple. Teachers' guide with activities and resources provide material for interesting lessons, complete with directions for making a water clock.

Look at Inside the Mechanical Clock to see the parts of this type of clock.

Use batteries, bulbs and wires to make simple circuits so students can see how the battery operated Electric Program Clocks were able to complete the circuit which rang the bells. Visit Using Electricity to Keep Time to see four lessons for beginners on what makes your electric clock work.

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What types of clocks can student see that are unique?

Here are some links to some unique clocks and information which might help get the creative ideas started:

The Clock of the Long Now information should help students read a brief article about the ideas of a futurist group and see a photo of a prototype of the clock. You can also visit the Long Now Foundation at to see the Y10K clock which is being built. This is a very interesting site with an innovative clock. Wired Magazines article on the Millennium Clock that will last 10,000 years. Detailed article about the Clock of the Long Now with illustrations and explanations of how it will work and who will maintain it for the next 10,000 years.

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The Electronic Master Clock replaces the old Pendulum type mechanical clocks used in Electromechanical

Using a mechanical clockÍs display to mark the state of the moonÍs phase

Clocks that will control - Read All About It! Soon clocks will do much more than just keep time. Clocks will be used to control other devices. Learn about some ideas for future time keeping devices.

The Population Clock at the U.S. Census Bureau keeps a running total of the U.S. and world populations. A Dynamic Clock version for Netscape and a Java version are available.

Time Converter Select seconds, hours, minutes, days or years and what you want to convert them into. Input the number of your selection to convert and click. The converter tells you not only the answer but how to arrive at the solution.

Time Service Department U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, DC. The Department of the Navy serves as the country's official timekeeper, with the Master Clock facility at the Washington Naval Observatory. There is a link here to a U.S. Time Zone Converter and to the USNO Master Clock.

Clocks and Time on the 'net page has a variety of links you might find interesting.

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Web sites with student examples:

View some "future" clocks done for a ThinkQuest Project to get students motivated.

Time Topper 2000

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Patent Resources:

New and unique ideas deserve protection. The U.S. Patent Office has been granting inventors of ideas, devices, designs and processes an award called a patent. A patent will protect the inventor from anyone being able to make, sell or take their original ideas for 20 years.Learn more about patents with this easy to read article called What is a Patent? Have students try an online quiz about patents after they read the article.

Your class will receive a Millennium Clock Virtual Online Patent when they complete and submit their project. You will receive email notification for the URL which will allow you to print out copies of the patent for all students involved in the project.

Here are some online resources to help students learn more about the patent process. (US Patent Office Kids Pages) (US Patent Office)

Go on a scavenger hunt to find out more about patents and inventors.

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Inventor and Invention Resources

Links to Inventions and Inventors (Inventors Hall of Fame) (Database of inventions in alphabetical order) (Database of inventors by name)

You might want to take this opportunity to discuss the role of women and how their contributions have been important to our way of life and economy. Early women inventors were often not able to patent inventions in their own names and sometimes their husbands or others males had to get patents for them. Here are some web sites which discuss women inventors: (Discusses African-American Women Inventors)

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What should students complete for the project?

Students should complete and submit the following components:

  • An illustration or graphic representation of their clock or time keeping device. They may use any medium or the computer to create an original design. No clip art. All art work should be done using the creative ideas of students. The graphic can also be a photograph of a model created.If possible, please scan art work or photos. GIF and JPEG files are preferred. (More information on how to submit student work will be sent to those registering for the project.)
  • A name for the clock or time keeping device.
  • A detailed description of the clock.Include what it might be made of, how it will work and what it will measure.Also include any other interesting or unique design information you think would be helful to someone viewing your creation.
  • Include a statement to explain why this clock or time keeping device may be needed or well suited for the new Millennium.


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