Math for the Frontier
Procedures for teachers is divided into three sections:
-- Preparing for the lesson
-- Conducting the lesson
-- Additional activities
- Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
- Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above. Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
- Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
- Software: Excel (optional)
Students need the following supplies:
- Large sheets of paper
to make charts
- FRONTIER HOUSE - Getting Started: Packing and Preparing for A New Life
Go to this essay and click on Fergus complete list for
access to a complete list of supplies. This is the PBS site for the FRONTIER
- DR. QUINN MEDICINE WOMAN
This site lists dollar conversions of $1 in the 1850s through the
1870s into todays dollars. This site also lists prices of some
of the supplies that are listed on James Fergus complete list of supplies
for the journey.
- USA Gold - Inflation Explanation
This site will give the teacher a brief and clear explanation about the
history of inflation and how to explain it to elementary aged students.
- US Inflation Calculator
Performs calculations for any period between 1800 and the present. The pre-1975 data are the Consumer Price Index statistics from Historical Statistics of the United States (USGPO, 1975). All data since then are from the annual Statistical Abstracts of the United States.
Present students with the following scenario:
Your parents/caregivers got new jobs so they need to relocate your
family to a different state. What would you need to pack with you?
What do you need to do? Pack, close down the house, say good-bye
to friends and family, find a new home, send out change of address
Start a running list about the process of moving.
Then start a list of what the students and families would need to pack if they were moving next month. (The list should include clothing, furniture, appliances, toys, etc.)
What would they leave behind? Why?
| Learning Activities:
|| Read the Getting Started: Packing and Preparing
for a New Life section of the FRONTIER HOUSE website. Hand out
the study questions to make sure that students understand what the
site is about. Students should then answer and review the questions
together in small groups.
|| Now ask students to create a master-moving list for
2002, which will later be compared to a list from 1880. To do this,
have students work in small groups and make a list of the things that
they would pack if they moved across the country with their family.
From the small group lists, have the class compile a master list.
|| Then give students a complete list of supplies that
James Fergus used (accessible at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/frontierlife/essay2.html).
Students should answer the following questions based on the list:
- What are the differences between your modern supply list and Fergus's list for the 1880's?
- Why do you think they are different?
- Provisions Why don't we have to bring all of this food?
- Clothing Would the amount that Fergus and his family brought
be enough for you?
- Teams Why would they bring cattle and a tent? Would you bring
a tent yourself? What would you do for lodging instead?
- Stationary This seemed to be a major component of the packing?
Why? Would this be such an important consideration for you?
|| Students will now look at what these items cost in
the 1870's and compare them to today's prices. Have the class look
through the grocery price list on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman site (http://www.drquinnmd.com/drquinn/bank.html)
to find items that they can find in the grocery store today. They
should find staples such as rice, butter and sugar. They should create
an Excel or paper chart of items with the 1870s price and what it
should cost today according to the US Inflation Calculator at http://www.westegg.com/inflation/.
Hopefully, students will notice that the prices are significantly
more in todays economy. The students should brainstorm reasons
why this may be so.
The previous step is a perfect way to begin a lesson on inflation. Review http://www.usagold.com/gildedopinion/RoseInflation.html
to get the basics on inflation. The site mentions that monetary
inflation occurs when banks extend loans (the supply of circulating
money goes up); and monetary deflation occurs when borrowers repay
loans (the supply of circulating money goes down). In simpler terms,
when there are more bills in circulation, the dollar is worth less.
Here's a visual example that you can use to explain this concept
to your students:
Picture me with a toy balloon in my hand. I put the balloon up
to my lips and blow air into it. Result: the balloon expands.
I have inflated the balloon! Assume that the air I expel from
my lungs into the balloon is money, and assume that the circumference
of the balloon represents the general price level. With each huff
and puff more air (money) is injected into the balloon (the economy),
and the result is that the circumference (price level) rises.
This is what monetary inflation (injected air into the balloon)
and subsequently rising prices (the growing circumference of the
balloon) is all about.
|| Now ask the class to calculate the buying supplies
for James Fergus and his family in todays dollars. Divide the
class into 9 different groups, one for each category of supplies on
the James Fergus list. Each group will use the Internet to find the
cost of these supplies.
Once the students have found the prices of the items in question,
they need to total the numbers and find the final cost. Their chart
should include a column for each other following: item, quantity, per item cost in present day, and total cost of items in the present day. See organizer for sample chart.
| Culminating Activity/Assessment:
Give students the following scenario:
Researchers, scientists, and astronauts are all reporting findings
of ice on the planet of Mars. If ice does exist, that means that
water exists on the planet. If there is water, then there can be
life on Mars. The country is planning to settle and build a colony
on Mars and you have to submit a plan about how to go about do it.
You must determine:
Write a proposal for them explaining your reasons for bring certain
ideas or people.
- What would you need to bring with you?
- What would all of this cost? (Try to imagine what impact inflation
might have on future prices.)
- Who would you bring on your journey to Mars and why? (Answers
should include engineers, scientists, doctors, teachers, and biologists.)
Science While on the journey across the cross-country trek
in the 1880's, your father kills some buffalo for food. How do you
preserve meat so that it will be edible for the rest of the trip?
You still have about three months of traveling left.
English and Social Studies You have packed stationary items
for the trip and your new home. Write a letter to one of your friends
back home and tell them about the trip westward.
- What if the entire wagon tipped over?
- What if you and your family got caught in a snowstorm and couldnt
move? What happened while you were stranded?
Cooking Homesteading meant spending winters without a variety
of fruits and vegetables. In a good year, they might have potatoes,
turnips, parsnips, carrots, squash and onions. Go to http://www.buttermilkskies.com/recipes.htm
for recipes for potato soup, fried potatoes and onions, sourdough
starter and sourdough biscuits.