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Monday Morning Ready01.11.2019
Jumpstart Your Week!

Cable cars are a symbol for San Francisco, but they are also a big part of the city's history. Before the Great Earthquake of 1906, there were more than 600 cable cars in San Francisco, but by 1912, there were less than 100 and today there are only 40.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Why do you think cable cars became such a famous symbol for San Francisco?

Grade 5-6

Have you ever ridden on a cable car? If so, what was it like? If not, how do you think cable cars are different from other types of transportation?

Grade 7-8

According to the article, there were more than 600 cable cars in San Francisco in 1906 but only 40 now. And it takes several dozen craftsmen up to two years to build one cable car today. Do you think it would be better or worse for the city if workers took less time to build a cable car and more cable cars were put into service? Why?

Grade 9-10

The article identified several movies shot in San Francisco that featured the city's famous cable cars. If you were writing a movie that was to be set and filmed in San Francisco, how would you include the cable cars in the movie's plot?

LESSON PLAN
Design the Mass Transit System of the Future

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, discuss what mass transit is (public transportation, especially used in urban areas). Invite students to describe different types of mass transit they have used.
  2. Point out that over time the purpose of mass transit has stayed the same-moving lots of people as quickly and efficiently as possible. But as new technologies are developed, new tools are invented and new modes of mass transit become available.
  3. Instruct students to identify issues that they think will impact mass transit in the future. Then have them conduct research to identify new tools and technologies that could be used to improve mass transit in a notable way.
  4. Challenge students to brainstorm ideas about how those tools and technologies could be incorporated into a design for a mass transit system of the future.
  5. Give students time to write a description and sketch a model of their ideas.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to share their descriptions and models with the class. Encourage them to identify key tools and technologies incorporated into in their designs. Challenge them to explain how their ideas would improve mass transit in the future.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
As a class, search online to identify tools or technologies that could be used to improve mass transit in the future. If necessary, help students understand what those tools and technologies are and how they work. Then divide the class into small groups. Challenge each group to select one tool or technology discussed and incorporate it into a design for a mass transit system of the future.
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Give groups time to conduct research to identify tools and technologies that could be used to improve mass transit in the future. Then have each group select one tool and one technology to incorporate into their mass transit designs. Give them time to write a description and create a sketch of their mass transit system of the future.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Give partners time to conduct research to identify tools and technologies that could be used to improve mass transit in the future. Then have each pair select one technology and three related tools to incorporate into their mass transit designs. Give them time to write a description and create a sketch of their mass transit system of the future.
Grades 9-10:
Assign each student a partner. Encourage pairs to scour the Internet to learn more about modes of mass transit in use today. Instruct them to also conduct research to learn about new tools and technologies that could be used to improve mass transit in the future. Challenge pairs to brainstorm ideas about how those tools and technologies could be used to improve the rider's personal experience and make the mode of mass transit more efficient in a notable way. Give partners time to write a description and create a sketch that depicts their ideas of a better mass transit system in the future.
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
America on the Move
This site, presented by the National Museum of American History, explores the role of transportation in American history. Students will visit communities wrestling with the changes that new transportation networks brought to see cities change, suburbs expand, and farms and factories become a part of regional, national and international economies.

Where Have You Been, Where Are You Going?
In this downloadable activity from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, students list the states they‘ve visited and the modes of transportation that brought them there.

A Green City: Past, Present and Future
In this teacher-created lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students look at the history of city development and city planning as they consider ideas for the future of urban transportation.

This Electric Bus Can Charge in 15 Seconds
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn about a new method for charging buses that is an attractive alternative to having unsightly wires strung across the street.

MOBILITY, Bike Rack Remix
In this teacher-created lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students design a public bicycle rack for their community or school. The project gives a real-world application to basic math and geometry.

From Horses to Horsepower: Studebaker Helped Move a Nation
This online exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries traces the history of the Studebaker company from 1852 to 1966, from wagon production to the automobile industry. It includes a timeline, bibliography and images of wagons, carriages, cars and factories.

New York City Delights: The Taxi Cab
In this Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum activity, students learn about the role of taxis in New York City life. Students will conduct collaborative research to learn about the history of taxis, investigate New York City destinations and more.

MOBILITY, Traveling Lightly: What’s My Footprint?
In this Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum lesson, students will use measurement and basic math as they learn about the role of transportation in climate change. Then, students will consider ways of minimizing impact on the environment.
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