Monday, September 7, 2009

Study Questions #1: for Some Historical Events

In the post "Some Historical Events," there are several things that involved different technologies. Like


If travelers used a sailing ship – powered by wind-driven sails – since long before the days of Columbus in 1492 and the first steam ship crossed the Atlantic in 1818, how do you think this affected travel in the 19th Century? Why do you think people wanted advances in technology like this? What impact does this have on modern technology? When was the first airplane flight? When were the first space flights? How long has it been since humans landed on the Moon?

Robert Macadam invented a road-paving surface in 1815. What is it called? Do we still use it today? What impact did it have on transportation, then or now? That would make it almost 200 years old - pretty old technology! What do you think city streets would be like without it? What impact did his invention have on society in general?

People rode horses or drove in horse-drawn carriages and coaches. When did the car become a standard part of our society? What do you think a traffic jam in 1820 was like?

Railroads began developing in the early 1800s and during Mendelssohn's lifetime, trains began to connect many of the cities in Germany just as they already had in England and in the United States. What impact would the new technology of railroads have on things like travel, communication, produce and the economy? Compare how it might have been before with what changes may have happened afterward.

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There were also technological advances in communication.

How do people communicate today? What technologies do we use?

Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1832, but his was not the first attempt at creating a way of communicating long-distance. Before, people used a system of flags or semaphores that required sight-lines to relay information from one location to the next. Morse's telegraph – along with the code he invented for sending that information – evolved over a period of time before it became standard. In 1838, he began to construct a telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington but the first news transmitted on that line didn't happen until 1844, another six years.

What changes occurred since then in how we communicate?

Ask some older relatives in your family if they remember what telephones were like when they were kids. How have things changed since then? What changes in cell-phone technology have happened just in more recent years?

(Illustration: L = early cell phone from 1980s; R = cell phone from 1990s)

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We just observed the holiday called “Labor Day” which originally was intended to observe what?

In Mendelssohn's lifetime, laws were enacted in England to reduce the work day for children between the ages of 14-18 to a 12-hour day. In the United States, Massachusetts limited the work day for children under the age of 12 to a 10-hour day.

What impact do you think these changes had on family life then and how do you think your life would be today if those changes had never occurred?

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When Mendelssohn was 25, England abolished slavery in the British Empire with the passing of laws in 1834. Even Russia freed its serfs (peasants owned by land-owners) by a governmental decree in 1861.

In the United States, it took a civil war to bring about the abolition of slavery with Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 after the war had started and made official only with the passing of a constitutional amendment in 1865.

What circumstances might explain why the United States seemed to “lag behind” the British and Russian Empires?