Search form

Chips, Anyone?



  • Health
    --Our Bodies
  • Science
  • Social Studies
    --Current Events
  • Vocational Education


Grades 2-up

News Content

Computer chips implanted under the skin are changing some people's lives.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to identify all of the ways in which computer technology touches their lives. Write their ideas on a board or chart. Then tell them they're going to read a story about some new uses for computer-chip technology.

News Words

Introduce these words from the News Word box on the students' printable page. Ask students to define the words. Help them out if they need it.
  • imagine -- to picture something in your mind
  • signal -- an electrical pulse used to send radio sounds, TV pictures, telephone conversations
  • enable -- to make it possible for someone to do something
  • allergies -- unpleasant reactions (such as sneezes or rashes) to things; for example, some people have allergies to pollen, dust, or some foods
  • antenna -- a wire that receives an electrical signal
  • messages -- information sent to someone

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story Chips, Anyone?.

Reading the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

* Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

* Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

* Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story.

  • In a simple procedure, computer networking student William Donelson recently had a chip implanted. A syringe was used to implant the chip in the fleshy part of his hand between his thumb and index finger. Now he can wave his hand and log on to his computer and unlock his car. Donelson likens the chip to the ease with which some people wear wireless earpieces to talk on their cell phones. The difference between a device resting in one's ear and inside the body is "a pretty small step," he told the New York Times.
  • The chip is essentially an unseen key card of the type used by highway "EZ-Pass" systems to enable drivers to pass through tollbooths without having to stop to pay toll-takers.
  • At the Mexican Ministry of Justice, some employees have chip implants that enable them to "fast track" through their building's security system.
  • In Spain, one dance club offered chips to members so they don't have to wait in line to enter the club.
  • One Texas school district is requiring students to wear RFID badges so they can track when the kids get on or off school buses. Other school districts are planning to use the badges to track student attendance. In Japan, RFIDs are used to ensure that students do not cut classes. School officials say it helps ensure student safety, and most parents have supported the efforts.
  • In hospitals, doctors can use the chips to learn whether patients have diabetes or heart disease, or if they require special medications. The chips give doctors access to information about older patients who are suffering from Alzheimer's disease too. Today, about 70 U.S. hospitals have access to the technology that enables them to read implanted chips.
  • Jack Schmidig, the police chief in Bergen County, N.J., had a chip implanted so that doctors can use it to find his medical records in an emergency. He has a vacation home in Florida, but all of his medical information is in New Jersey. If anything happens to him in Florida, the hospital -- which has a scanner -- will have access to his important medical information.
  • In the case of medical-information implants, that information is not actually encoded on the chip. Instead, the chip carries an encoded number that can be read by a scanner in hospitals. Then a computer is used to access the medical data associated with that number. More than 2,000 people around the world -- 60 of them in the United States -- have had medical-information chips implanted since they were made available in 2004.
  • People who are excited about this technology can foresee the day when babies are tagged at birth with a chip that includes their Social Security number and other important information.
  • Some people worry that the day might come when employers or the government require people to have chip implants. They worry that the government might use the technology to invade people's privacy. For example, implanted chips might enable the government to track the movements of people. "You wouldn't walk down the street with your Social Security number printed on your shirt," says Liz McIntyre, co-author of "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID." "Why would you want an RFID chip capable of transmitting an identification number?" she wondered.
  • In one California school district parents fought the use of RFID tags. "If a predator wanted to target my child, the mandatory school ID card has just made that task easier," one parent was quoted as saying in a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Comprehension Check

Recalling Detail

  • What is an RFID? (it's a chip implanted under the skin of a person or animal)
  • How big is an RFID? (it's the size of a grain of rice)
  • How are RFIDs being used in schools? (they can be used to be sure students are in school, or to learn where they are)
  • How can RFIDs help doctors? (if a person is in an accident or unable to communicate, the chip can give doctors access to information about their patient such as blood type, needed medications, allergies)

Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News questions that appear on the students' news page.

In addition, you might challenge students to make a list of the kinds of information that could be stored on a chip implanted under their skin. Which of those pieces of information might they not want to be stored if their personal privacy was an issue?

Follow-Up Activities

Writing -- persuasive essay. Create a 2-column chart. Label one column Benefits and the other column Drawbacks. Have students consider the benefits and drawbacks of chip-implant technology. Write their thoughts in the appropriate columns as they share them. When all ideas have been recorded, ask students to decide if they think chip implants are a good idea or a bad idea. Have them use the information on the chart to support their stand as they write persuasive essays.

Language. In the English language, we often call things by shortened names. For example, an RFID is a shortened name for a Radio Frequency Identification Device. Following are "short names" for common things that students might know. Write some of them on a board or chart and see how many students can identify. In the days ahead, have students look for and bring in examples of other short names that they see in newspapers, on TV, on billboards...

  • 24/7 (24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week)
  • AC (Air Conditioning)
  • AKA (Also Known As)
  • ASAP (As Soon As Possible)
  • ATM (Automated Teller Machine)
  • BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato sandwich)
  • CSI (Crime Scene Investigator)
  • EST (Eastern Standard Time)
  • ET (Extra Terrestrial)
  • FYI (For Your Information)
  • HMO (Health Maintenance Organization)
  • IQ (Intelligence Quotient)
  • ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
  • JFK (John Fitzgerald Kennedy)
  • OJ (Orange Juice)
  • PBJ (Peanut Butter and Jelly)
  • PC (Politically Correct)
  • PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)
  • PIN (Personal Identification Number)
  • PR (Public Relations)
  • PS (Post Script)
  • Q&A (Question and Answer)
  • R&R (Rest and Relaxation)
  • SPF (Sun Protection Factor on sunscreen)
  • TGIF (Thank God It's Friday)
  • TLC (Tender Loving Care)
  • UFO (Unidentified Flying Object)
  • UPC (Universal Product Code)
  • VIP (Very Important Person)
  • YTD (Year To Date)

Science. The Web site How Stuff Works explains in easy-to-understand language how almost everything works! You might share with students the How Stuff Works explanation of How RFIDs Work.


Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NPH-H.K-4.2 Health Information, Products and Services
GRADES 5 - 8
NPH-H.5-8.2 Health Information, Products and Services
GRADES 9 - 12
NPH-H.9-12.2 Health Information, Products and Services

NS.K-4.5 Science and Technology
NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.5 Science and Technology
NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.5 Science and Technology
NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.2 Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
NT.K-12.4 Technology Communications Tools

See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World