Communication through time KS2

Join us at the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno to find out more about the history of human communication, from flag semaphore, to the telegraph to modern fibre-optics in this hands-on, fun workshop.


Workshop plus Museum visit up to 4 hours, or outreach session (2 or 3 sessions of 1½ hours each)

Workshop outline

The workshop starts with a discussion about communication and how humans sent messages long distances before we had electricity.
We then use semaphore flags to explore the challenges of this type of long-distance communication.

Using simple circuits, we explore the science behind the electric telegraph and ‘transmit’ messages to each other in Morse code using real Morse keys.
We then consider the challenges of sending these electrical signals under the sea (across 2,500 miles of Atlantic Ocean) and relate Victorian electric telegraph cables to modern-day fibre-optic cables carrying internet traffic.
In the plenary we discuss what pupils have learned. The workshop is followed by a Museum visit and trail.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the workshop most pupils will understand:

  • Why we communicate and how flag semaphore worked
  • Why the electric telegraph developed and the science behind it
  • How Porthcurno fits into the Victorian (and modern) story of global communication

National Curriculum Links

History KS2: A study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066.

Science KS2

  • construct a simple series electrical circuit, identifying and naming its basic parts, including cells, wires, bulbs, switches and buzzers
  • recognise that a switch opens and closes a circuit and associate this with whether or not a lamp lights in a simple series circuit

Suggestions for pre-visit preparation

Before the visit it would be helpful if the class could understand what communication is, and have thought about all the different ways that we can communicate.

Suggestions for post-visit activities

A list of suggested post-activities is available here: KS2 Communication Through Time Post Visit Activities PDF.

Feedback and evaluation

We will give you an evaluation form to complete at the end of the workshop. Please complete this as fully as you can. Your feedback is very much appreciated and is used to ensure that future workshops meet the meet the learning needs of your students.

Telegraph Museum