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Lesson Plans
Rollin' on The River - the Hudson River!
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Prep for Teachers

You will need to run off all of the student materials for the class ahead of time. Please make sure to use card stock weight paper for the paddle wheel. An alternative to this is to use regular paper and glue the pattern to a manila file folder. Then the pattern will have enough stiffness to work.
Cue the video, "Stories of the Hudson" to the point between 1/3 and 1/2 way through the tape at which there is a picture of the opening credits for an old black and white movie. It shows the credits as "Starring Marion Davies in Little Old New York." Please take the time to bookmark the Web sites for your students on the computers they will be using. Alternatively, you may wish to set up an online direct link system for the websites by using a free service such as www.portaportal.com. Just follow the online directions. Be sure to set the preferences to allow guest access. Do not give your students your password. If you allow guest access, they can use the site you set up for them by logging in under the guest access box with your login name - no password. They will be able to use the links, but have no access to change the site!

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of vido segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

Introductory Activities: Setting the Stage

During this activity, your students will make a simple engine turbine with a paddlewheel attached to it. This is a very simplified model of what early steamboats would have used for power. The schematic of a real piston driven steam engine is available as a handout in the student materials section of this lesson. Please remember that while the steam engine was invented in England, its use for powering boats was developed in New York! (You might want to mention that to your students!)

Step 1

Ask your students if they have ever seen a steam engine. You may want to have them discuss how they think it works. (The water boiled created steam under pressure which is vented onto a turbine. The turbine is attached through a series of gears to a drive mechanism. This is represented in the model by the skewer. I have provided a simple model schematic of this in the student materials which you may wish to refer to as they are building their models.)

Step 2

Distribute the materials to the students or set up stations for them to get the supplies themselves.

Step 3

Have each student cut out the turbine pattern and use the point of the skewer to pierce the center of the bottom of the cup. Remove the skewer and thread the turbine pattern onto the skewer until it is about halfway down the skewer. Tape the alternating corners of the turbine carefully to the skewer to form what looks like a stationary pinwheel. See diagram on student handouts.

Step 4

Replace the skewer through the hole in the cup with the turbine set inside the cup. Place the lid on the cup. The skewer should stick out through the top. (You may have to use the sharp point of a pencil to make a small hole in the lid for the skewer to fit through. Do not tape the skewer to the cup of the lid. It must be able to turn freely. This is the combustion/steam generating area of your engine. The hot gas being created in the boiler will look for a way to get out of the cup and in doing so will spin the pinwheel.

Step 5

Have the students cut out and assemble the parts of the paddle wheel according to the directions on the sheet.

Step 6

Carefully use the point of the skewer to pierce the center of the paddle wheel. Slide the paddle wheel part way up the skewer. Tape both the top and the bottom side of the paddlewheel to the skewer to hold it rigidly in position on the skewer. It should turn when the skewer turns.

Step 7

Use a sharp pencil to make a small hole for the straw and an exhaust hole in the cup as shown on the diagram in the student handouts. Place the end of the straw in the first hole made in the cup for venting. This straw is going to be how the "steam" (hot air from the student) gets into the turbine chamber. You might wish to ask your students what part of the steam engine they are substituting for.
(The boiler)

Step 8

Ask the students to blow gently through the straw at first, and then harder to see what happens to the paddlewheel when the steam is applied.

Step 9

Say to the class, "Now that you have built a sort of steam engine, let's watch a video to learn some more about how steamboats affected life here along the Hudson River." You are now ready to start the Learning Activity.


Learning Activities

Step 1

Place the pre-cued tape of "Stories of the Hudson" in the VCR and then provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking your class to listen and watch carefully to find out what people believed was the key to wealth and prosperity in early America, and who was the backer of the first commercially run steamboat in the New York area? PLAY the tape through the scene of the men going into the office, with the narrator stating, "Robert Livingston invested in a new machine called the steamboat…". PAUSE the tape to discuss what was just viewed and check for student comprehension. (Inventions were the key to wealth and a better life, and Robert Livingston was the wealthy investor in the steamboat.)

Step 2

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTIONby asking your class to find out who the man was who was demonstrating the invention to Livingston, and what did he do for a living? PLAY the tape through the scene in which Fulton removes the model from the case and the narrator states, "Robert Fulton was an artist from Pennsylvania who had turned to invention to make a living…" PAUSE the tape to ask for answers to the focus question. Assess student comprehension and REWIND the tape to REPLAY this segment is the class has missed the significance of Fulton not being an inventor himself. (Robert Fulton was an artist from Pennsylvania who had turned to inventing to make a living.)

Step 3

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking your class to write down where they think Fulton's first steamboat was built. Be sure to check that every student has written a prediction before starting the tape. PLAY the tape through the scene of the steamboat on the river with the narrator stating that, "the steamboat was built in Manhattan using an engine from England!" STOP the tape to allow the students to compare their predictions to the correct answer as given on the tape. Discuss whether they believe a boat could be built in Manhattan today, why or why not? (The steamboat was built in Manhattan using an engine from England. You probably could not afford the space to build a boat today as the real estate values are so high. Also, most of the industrial acreage of New York is slowly being replaced by commercial, residential, or recreational space. - There is a PBS produced video series entitled On the Water Front/ New York Voices. This tape could provide the springboard you may need to bring this lesson into your own district context in NYC. It is available through PBS.)

Step 4

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking the students in your class to describe why the first steamboat was called "Fulton's Folly" and what happened on its maiden voyage. PLAY the tape through he visual of the steamboat pulling away up river with the narrator saying, "it was described as a backwoods sawmill mounted on a scow and set on fire." STOP the tape and discuss the information presented to check for student comprehension. (The steamboat moved a short distance and then stopped, it was loud, noisy, splashed the passengers with the paddlewheel, and smelled from the boiler used to generate the steam.) While your students are discussing the finer points of Fulton's design, REWIND the program to the start of the tape. You will need to RECUE the tape to the credits at the start of the program, just as the words: "Producer Tom Spain" appear on the screen. (You can do this by fast forwarding from the start of the tape - there will be no sound, so you must keep an eye out for the credits.)

Step 5

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INERACTION by asking the students in your class what the steamboat did for America? Let them suggest what they think would be appropriate answers and write them on the board for later use. PLAY the tape through the scene of the passengers at the steamboat terminals with the narrator saying, "they called it the Lordly Hudson." STOP the tape to check for student comprehension. Compare their list on the board to what the program had shown. (Steamboats taught Americans to hurry… both people and goods cold be moved faster and on a set schedule, rather than depending on the tides and winds.)

Step 6

FAST FORWARD the program to the black and white line drawing picture of a stage actress - Fannie Kimball. Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INERACTION by asking your class what the American "Grand Tour" was in the 1830's. Ask them to write as many different facts about the tour or a part of the tour as they can find in the next segment. PLAY the tape through the drawing of the passenger with his feet up on the fence/railing and the narrator saying," ... would have experienced the fullness of American democracy." STOP the program to check for student comprehension. Have the students offer pieces of information which you may list on the board for them to copy or check off as they go through their own lists. (The American Grand Tour was a trip to the eastern United States. It included a steamboat trip up the Hudson River to see the sights. The boat traveled at an amazing speed of 15 miles per hour. Everyone, rich and poor could go on the boat.)

Step 7

FAST FORWARD the program to the visual of the pink fog on the mountains of West Point. There will be a sort of greenish gold tint on the lower mountains in the foreground of the picture. The next scene will be of an older man walking in a graveyard with two cadets and saying, "It's a somber place." Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking the class to find out what the cadets at West Point did for the steamboat passengers. PLAY the program through the picture of the parade ground maneuvers scene with the narrator saying, "two million people a year visit West Point." PAUSE the tape to check for student comprehension. (The cadets performed as a Theater of the Military Arts for the steamboat passengers, entertaining them with drills and exercises such as the firing of artillery pieces to welcome the visitors.)

Step 8

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking your students to think back to colonial days as to why the Hudson River was so important. Have the students look at the map of the thirteen colonies provided in the student materials. Ask them to write one sentence about what they consider to be the most important thing about the Hudson River at that time. PLAY the tape through the picture of the map of the thirteen colonies with the narrator stating that the Hudson was the "single artery that divided America." PAUSE the program to check for student comprehension. (The Hudson divided what were the industrial and agricultural regions of the colonies. It also provided transportation for goods and people from one region to another.)

Step 9

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking your students why West Point was so important during the American Revolution? PLAY the tape through the picture of the man walking through a snowy wooded area with two cadets in camouflage, while the speaker asks "How does a land force stop the pre-eminent naval force?" STOP the tape to check for student comprehension. (The Hudson River makes sharp turn at West Point. In doing so it narrows and becomes difficult to navigate. At this point, traffic on the river could be controlled by a small land force controlling the traffic in the turn with artillery pieces - canons. West Point was the Gibraltar of America. The British might be able to control the fifty miles south of that spot, but would lose control of the shipping on the river to the colonists.)

Step 10

FAST FORWARD the program to the picture of the Catskills at sunset, the narrator will be saying the phrase, "like a crown of glory..." Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking your students how they think the steamboats improved the economy of the Catskills in the early 1800s. PLAY the tape through the scene of the people on the ledge at the Catskills Mountain House Hotel with the clouds rolling in and the lady saying,"...how the world appeared to lay at my feet..." STOP the tape. (The steamboats brought tourists/artists inland to look at and paint the scenery of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskills region.)


Culminating Activity

Step 1

Have the students break into pairs at the computers to use the Web sites bookmarked by you to fill in the timeline and information requested on the attached student handout - All Aboard!

Step 2

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking your students to look at the Web sites listed for their use and tell which site they think would be the most useful in filling in the timeline portion of this worksheet. Take a vote on the responses and have everyone go to that site. If they do not select the Engines of Ingenuity site, you may need to point them in that direction as well as the maritime museum site.

Step 3

After the students have completed their timelines, you may wish to show an overhead projection of the answer sheet provided with this lesson. It might be helpful to discuss such points as the fact that the inventor of the modern steam engine (James Watt) did not approve of the use of the steam engine for transportation. He saw that as a frivolous use of resources. It might also be interesting to point out that trains and steamships seem to have developed at about the same time, yet steamships became more commercially viable sooner. You should point out to the class that steamships operate in a natural setting of the river and trains must have rails laid to each destination.

Step 4

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking your students to look at the map of the Hudson valley which can be seen at http://www.maps.com and try to determine what the major points of interest would be to a tourist traveling up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany. List the sites they choose on the brochure form provided and write a short description in the same manner as a tour guide might describe what they are looking at. They will need to do some searching on the Internet to complete this portion of the assignment. (Allow for a variety of answers as long as the description justifies the inclusion of the site as a point of interest.)


Cross-Curricilar Extensions

LANGUAGE ARTS
Ask each student to write a letter describing what it would be like to travel up the river on a steamboat in 1830.

SOCIAL STUDIES
Ask the students to look at the map of the Hudson River Valley basin and compile a list of all of the sites of battles of the Revolutionary War they can find on it. They will probably need to go online to the Internet to get a list of battle locations in order to complete this. Mark each location on the map with a small star and count how many were fought in this small area.

ART
Ask the students to select a scene they find particularly pretty from the area around where they live and paint a watercolor picture of it from memory.


Community Connections

  • Have the students look at the neighborhood map of the area they live and go to school in. Tell them they are going to have to prepare to defend their homes and schools from an invading army. What features or locations on the map are the most important for them to be able to control and defend? Have them explain why they will have an advantage over the invading forces.


  • Have the students locate industrial or steam generating centers located within the immediate school district area. What use is the steam being put to today? Ask a custodian with a Black Seal Boiler license to come into the class to speak about how steam impacts their lives at home and at school.


  • Have the students create a "travel guide" for the path they take from school to their homes everyday. They should point out places and objects they find significant in their lives or the neighborhood.