Why do you think cable cars became such a famous symbol for San Francisco?
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?
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?
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Give students time to write a description and sketch a model of their ideas.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.