Use GollyGee Blocks to explore how transportation modes affect events in history
Grades 3-6

Advances in transportation have had enormous effects on historical events, such as wars, colonization, and political movements. In ancient times, armies that were able to move quickly and efficiently were at a tremendous advantage over those that struggled with transportation issues. The Hittites' war prowess was attributed to their invention of the horse-drawn chariot, while the Athenians' defeat of the Persians in the fifth century B.C. was due to their powerful ships. In more recent times, the first wartime use of tanks and airplanes in World War I gave strategic advantages to those countries that made use of this new technology.

Colonization has always benefited from advances in transportation. The westward movement in nineteenth-century America depended initially on the use of covered wagons, travelling in wagon trains, and later on the locomotive, as tracks were built across the country. Relatively new cities, such as Los Angeles, grew up around the automobile and the assumption that people would always want to drive to their destinations.  Today, we contemplate the colonization of other planets or space stations, because new modes of transportation have made that a possibility.

During the discussion, it may be helpful to have illustrations of the various modes of transportation that were available at the time.  Students will need paper and pencil for their paragraph.

The teacher discusses the effects of advances in transportation within the context of the historical event being studied (e.g., WWI, the Civil War, settlement of the first colonies, etc.). Do the students understand what kind of transportation was available at that period of history, as well as what had not yet been invented?

Students offer their examples of how transportation did or did not help in the historical event (classroom discussion).

Students use the Blocks to illustrate the event in history.  Students write a paragraph to describe how transportation affected the event.

Students are evaluated on their use of the historically correct transportation modes for the period or event being studied. Students may also be evaluated on their creativity in portraying the transportation.

Students are also assessed on their paragraph and their ability to describe the advantages or disadvantages of various transportation modes for the historical event or period.

Students use the Blocks to portray a specific battle. The position of various troops and vehicles should be researched, and then an accurate portrayal should be devised, using both the shapes and the objects, from the Blocks. Students will be challenged to build their own people using the program.  Once made, the people figure can be copied.

Students develop a new mode of transportation that might be used in future colonization or warfare. Students should include an accompanying paragraph that describes how this new vehicle would work and what the advantages would be.

Students use the Blocks to design a new mode of transportation (as above), but instead of portraying the outside of the vehicle, they build a scene of the dashboard. Various components can be labeled with the ABC tool.

Students design a vehicle in response to certain conditions, such as weather or population. For example, students use the Blocks to design a vehicle that drives well in the snow or that holds a family of twelve or that burrows under the earth.

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