The student will identify and explain the environmental features and economic factors that led to the development of a canal system in eastern Pennsylvania and describe the environmental impact of these systems.
(PA Science & Technology Standards: 3.6.10C, 3.8.10A, 3.8.10C; PA Environment & Ecology Standards: 4.8.10B, 4.8.10C)
The student will investigate different types of canal boat construction and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each.
(PA Science & Technology Standards: 3.6.10C, 3.8.10C; PA Environment & Ecology Standards: 4.8.7C)
The student will correctly operate a simulated model of a canal lock system.
(PA Science & Technology Standards: 3.2.10C, 3.6.10C)
Inferring, Predicting, Classifying, Communicating, Interpreting Data, Formulating Hypotheses, Experimenting, Solving Problems
Reference materials on canals and canal boats
Worksheet: "Canal Systems: Input / Output Chart"
Worksheet: "Analysis of Canal Boat Construction"
3-4 days (45-50 minutes each day)
1. Direct groups of 2-5 students to research the history of major canal systems to determine the environmental features and economic factors that influenced their development. Some useful web sites include the following:
2. Be sure the students evaluate the information they find about canal systems in general in light of the specific circumstances of the canal system in eastern Pennsylvania. Based on their research, have each group of students complete a "Canal Systems: Input / Output Chart."
3. Ask students to share the results of their research; as groups report, students should add new information to their charts.
4. Next, have students (working individually or in pairs) research a web site detailing the excavation of various canal boats:
5. Using the "Analysis of Canal Boat Construction" worksheet, have students classify various types of canal boats, using criteria and categories that they devise. The details of the web site may suggest categories (such as weight, hull design, date of construction, and type of cargo), but the students should determine which categories are most useful and defend their decision. On the chart, students should summarize the advantages and disadvantages of each category of canal boat listed.
6. Organize students into groups of 4-6. Explain that one of the big problems that canal designers had to solve was moving canal boats across rising and falling ground levels without exposing them to the dangers of waterfalls and rapids or the inefficiencies of portage (carrying the boat around obstacles). Direct students to investigate different types of lock designs and their operating mechanisms. Helpful web sites include the following:
7. Direct students to apply their knowledge of the operating principles of a canal lock system by successfully navigating a boat through locks in a simulation activity. Students should practice on the "single lock" demonstration game that can be found at http://www.terrax.org/sailing/locks/locksjs.aspx Then, working in pairs, students should assess each other on their ability to operate the "flight of two locks" simulation; each student should attempt two uphill navigations and two downhill navigations while his/her assessment partner keeps track of error messages, overflows, and other omissions or errors in sequence. Each pair of students should report their results and success rate to the teacher by the end of the lesson.
"Canal Systems: Input / Output Chart"
Accuracy of information for eastern Pennsylvania
Multiple entries for environmental features
Multiple entries for economic impact
"Analysis of Canal Boat Construction"
Accuracy of information
Identification of multiple categories of canal boats
Reasonable criteria linked to each category
Accurate advantages for each type of canal boat
Accurate disadvantages for each type of canal boat
Flight of Two Locks Demonstration Game
Low incidence of error and/or omission on at least one canal navigation
Link to CANAL SYSTEMS: INPUT / OUTPUT CHART - Activity Sheet
Link to ANALYSIS OF CANAL BOAT CONSTRUCTION - Activity Sheet
All of the above sites and the following:
Related Resources on Transportation Systems in eastern Pennsylvania
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