T R A N S P O R T A T I O N
In this activity, students will:
In groups, complete a chart showing how different forms of transportation affect the culture around them
Create an oral presentation that shows the connection between transportation and culture
Transportation is one of the factors that influence the shape and growth of a particular culture. In modern times, for example, the advent of the personal car has meant greater freedom for workers, who no longer need to live on main public transportation lines to get to their jobs. This relationship is somewhat symbiotic: people's need to find more efficient forms of transportation often provoke new inventions. For example, the gas crisis of the late 70's forced car manufacturers to downsize their cars in order to meet new fuel efficiency standards. The smaller cars that resulted often had less trunk space than larger, older cars, and people had to adjust their life styles to this. Fewer people could travel in one vehicle, and the smaller cars were prone to suffer more damage if they were involved in an accident with a larger, older vehicle. Although the societal changes caused by this change in car manufacturing were not as significant as more crucial events, they did have an impact on the way people lived their lives.
The history of Frederick County is dotted with similar, more far-reaching examples of the effect transportation can have on history and culture. Fredericktown initially grew as a stop on the National Pike, as a haven where travelers in coaches and wagons on their way west could rest and continue on in the journey. This traffic led to the development of a thriving business community here, with numerous services and employment opportunities that people in other areas of the county did not enjoy.
In more recent times, commuters freed by their personal vehicles could live in a relatively rural
area such as Frederick County and maintain jobs in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. This trend
continues to fuel the housing industry in the county, while, at the same time, engendering
controversy over preservation of farmland and the rural character of the county.
Distribute Worksheet B. Introduce the concept that transportation influences the way we live by beginning with a class discussion of the first two options on the chart: riding the bus to school and getting a ride in a private vehicle as to their effect on children and their families.
Brainstorm with the class to find the pluses and minuses of both options. These may include:
Divide class into small groups. Ask students to assign different roles to its members: leader, recorder(s), cheerleader, and members. Direct them to brainstorm about the life changes that resulted or may result from the forms of transportation included on the chart. Specifically, ask them to concentrate on what would a culture be like that only had this form of transportation to depend upon. For example, during the Civil War, people only had trains and horses to use in troop movement. How did this affect the shape of the war?
Build a large class chart with the pictures you gathered earlier, summarizing what the groups discovered about each form of transportation.
As a concluding activity, ask groups to construct an oral presentation (play, skit, debate, or
other) that would show how culture is shaped, in part, by the forms of transportation it can
use. They might want to play the part of people for whom each form of transportation was
the only option, or explore what might happen to the government if only one of these options
was open to them.
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