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Before roads crossed our nation, rivers served as roadways to move cargo. Learn about the engineering of the canal era of transportation.
Early in the history of the United States, canoes were used to move cargo from one location to another. As the need to move heavier loads increased, wooden boats that were stronger and larger were constructed to fit the needs of the day. Invite students to work in small groups to investigate the evolution of transportation during this time period. Ask them to compare and contrast pictures of canoes and wooden boats. How do they differ? How are they similar?
Unfortunately, the route of the rivers and natural barriers like waterfalls or rapids limited the areas a boat could travel. At these obstacles, goods would have to be unloaded onto a wagon to complete the trip. This process was costly and time consuming. What are some solutions you think could fix this problem? Allow time for students discussion.
Artificial waterways called canals were constructed around these natural limitations. Invite students to discuss how the building of canals improved the delivery of goods. Look at the pictures of some canals. What do they look like? What features do they have in common? Discuss the engineering of a canal system.
Use Model Magic® modeling compound to create a visual representation of a canal. Roll a long log of blue modeling compound to represent a river. Arrange the river on the table top. Students use a different color Model Magic to create a canal connecting two parts of the river. Model Magic that is fresh from the pack will stick to itself.
Students add additional engineering elements like locks to help the canal look more realistic. Need inspiration? Look at pictures of different canal systems.
Be creative! Encourage students to embellish models with a boat, mules or historical elements from the canal era.
Focus on historic achievements and positive role models with this collaborative monument making project.
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