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Smithsonian Science How Webcast

Unseen Connections - A Natural History of the Cellphone

In this video, anthropologist Dr. Joshua A. Bell discusses the life cycle of a cellphone and the social implications of the device becoming one of our most intimate possessions.


Meet Dr. Joshua A. Bell, cultural anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Have you ever considered that a little part of everywhere in the world is inside your phone? Joshua studies the natural history of cellphones, from cradle to grave. Take a journey with him along a supply chain, from the mines that produce cellphone minerals to the millions of discarded cellphones. Consider how cellphones have revolutionized our communications and changed our personal interactions. Reflect with Joshua about the emerging social implications of a cellphone being one of our most intimate possessions. This show aired June 4, 2015.

Cultural Anthropology


National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Earth Science


Earth and Human Activity
  • MS-ESS3-3Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
  • MS-ESS3-4Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.


Production, Distribution, and Consumption

  • People have wants that often exceed the limited resources available to them

Science, Technology, and Society

  • Science, and its practical application, technology, have had a major influence on social and cultural change, and on the ways people interact with the world

Global Connections

  • Global connections have intensified and accelerated the changes faced at the local, national and international levels

People, Places, and Environments

  • The study of people, places, and environments enables us to understand the relationship between human populations and the physical world

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards

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