Great Sites For Teaching About: Transportation
The month of August contains many dates of importance in the worlds of aviation, rail travel, and air travel, so today Education World shares several Web sites that explore the subject of transportation.
This week in history commemorates the 130th anniversary of the completion of the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad (August 15, 1870), the anniversary of the first transcontinental balloon flight (August 17, 1978), and the birthday of airplane inventor Orville Wright (August 19, 1871). In honor of those events, Education World has found several educational and entertaining sites all about transportation.
- Transportation The Business of Moving People, Goods, Etc.
This Web site is an extensive, well-organized reference on different aspects of transportation. Click on Important Dates in Transportation to see a time line that covers 8,000 years. Transportation in the United States details the importance of various road, air, rail, and water modes of transportation in U.S. history. The various overviews are concisely written and very readable.
- Divided Highways: The Interstates and the Transformation of American Life
Few projects have changed the look of the American landscape or have transformed the lives of average citizens as much as the United States Interstate Highway System. It is therefore surprising that the person most responsible for this massive, decades-long undertaking -- one that cost billions of dollars and has created more than 40,000 miles of roads -- is largely unknown. His name was Thomas Harris MacDonald, and he headed the Federal Bureau of Public Roads from 1919 until 1953. This Web site, companion to the PBS film Divided Highways: The Interstates and the Transformation of American Life, includes classroom activities, classroom themes, and recommended books for further study.
- United States Department of Transportation
This Web site has a lot of fun and educational materials for students from middle school through high school. There are poetry pages, transportation links, and other activities. Find out about the DOT's Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Program -- named for the inventor of the traffic signal -- that was formed to enhance transportation education through the DOT's current technology, education, and research programs and through the formation of new public and private partnerships. Also of interest is a brief biographical sketch of Morgan -- the son of former slaves -- who, despite having attained only an elementary school education, became a successful businessman and inventor.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
This is the Web site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 to carry out transportation-related safety programs. Click first on Stuff for Kids, then on Teachers' Lounge for lesson plans and coloring pages on safety issues. Also under Stuff for Kids are activities related to school bus and bicycle safety.
- Aviation Through the Ages: A History of Flight
This fun site features biographical sketches of famous aviators, photographs of a variety of aircraft, and a well-organized section describing the history of flight. The site provides links throughout to simple experiments and other related Web sites.
- Fulton, Robert
This Web page contains a brief but useful biography of Robert Fulton (1765-1815), the American inventor generally credited with designing the first efficient steamboat.
- Robert Fulton: His Life and Its Results
"Fulton did nothing to modify the engine, or to improve the steamboat even. He simply took the products of the genius of other mechanics, and set them at work, in combination, and then applied the already known steamboat, in his more satisfactorily proportioned form, to a variety of useful purposes, and with final success. It is this which constitutes Fulton's claim upon the gratitude and the remembrance of the nations. And it is quite enough." This quote is from the introduction to the 1805 book Robert Fulton: His Life and its Results, by Robert H. Thurston. The entire text of this document is available online as part of the Steam Engine Library Web site, a collection of historical documents relating to the history of the steam engine.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ABOUT TRANSPORTATION:
- Fun Facts About Railroads
This page from the Railroad Retirement Board Web site contains such information as the job requirements to become a railroad engineer, wages and job titles of railroad workers of the past, railroad slang, and other interesting train facts. The Railroad Retirement Board is an independent agency in the executive branch of the federal government. Its primary function is to administer comprehensive retirement, survivor, unemployment, and sickness benefit programs for the nation's railroad workers and their families under the Railroad Retirement and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Acts.
- How the Steam Engine Works
This Web page is a good starting place for a simple explanation of how steam engines work. Here, you can view a Web page slide show, with explanatory text, about a single cylinder steam engine or study a labeled sketch of the inside of a steam locomotive. This page is part of the Web site of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, a society for railroad enthusiasts since 1935.
- Traffic Safety Kids Page
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Governor's Traffic Safety Committee maintains this Web page, which contains several activities for children related to transportation safety. Included are coloring pages, puzzles, word games, and a traffic sign quiz. The site also contains links to related sites.
- King County, Washington, Department of Transportation: Programs and Activities for Kids
This is a good place for quizzes, word games, coloring pages, and more information on safety while walking or bike riding.
Lauren P. Gattilia
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