• In this activity, students will:
    • Examine the effects of transportation in their own lives
    • 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
    This activity is coordinated with the following MSPAP outcomes:
    • Social Studies Outcomes:

      • Students will demonstrate an ability — individually or as part of a group — to gather information, think critically, and solve problems as needed to facilitate responsible decision-making, to understand complex ideas, and to generate new ideas.

        Grades K - 3: Obtain and use relevant information by reading, asking questions, observing, and listening; interact with others in groups to achieve common goals.

        Grades 4 - 5: Obtain, interpret, organize, and use information from reading, asking questions, observing, and listening; participate in a group in a variety of roles, such as leader, follower, member, encourager, facilitator, and recorder.

      • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the history, diversity, and commonality of the peoples of the world, the reality of human interdependence, the need for global cooperation, and a multicultural perspective.

        Grades K - 3: Explain how people from different cultures share common wants and needs; examine how people develop cultures through interaction with the environment and with other cultures.

        Grades 4 - 5: Analyze the characteristics of various cultures as evidenced in the development of Maryland and the U.S.

    • Writing/Language Usage Outcome:

      • Students will demonstrate ability to write for various audiences and to address a variety of purposes — to inform, to persuade, to express personal ideas.


    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.


    1. Copy Worksheet B for the class. Collect pictures of different forms of transportation (cars, trucks, buses, trains, wagons, etc.) from magazines and the like. These pictures will be used to help students construct a class chart of the changes brought about by different forms of transportation.

    2. 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:

      • Walking to school — pluses: getting more exercise, parents do not have to take time from work to pick up students; minuses: in rainy or bad weather, you need to carry an umbrella or wear extra clothes
      • Riding a bus — pluses: more economical than private transportation, better on the environment; minuses: buses go on their own schedule, not yours

    3. 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?

    4. Build a large class chart with the pictures you gathered earlier, summarizing what the groups discovered about each form of transportation.

    5. 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.


    Form Pluses Minuses

     Taking the bus to school

     Getting a ride to school

     Stage coaches & wagons



     Buses and subways


     Rocket/ Space Shuttle/ Space Station


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