Sunday, September 28, 2014

Learning from England Without Leaving My Classroom

         A few days ago I participated in a Google video chat during my history class. My classmates and I got the opportunity to learn about the mill industry by getting a virtual tour of the MOSI Museum in Manchester, England. Our tour guide was Jamie, a man with extensive knowledge of the mills and a superb British accent. Another man named Darren also helped Jamie give us a tour. In order to prep for our tour we had to learn the basics about the mills. We started by visiting to the MOSI museum website and reading about Richard Arkwright and some of the textile designers in Manchester. We then watched a brief video where Jamie showed us some of the machines and items that were used in the mills. While watching we wrote down key terms, which we later defined. Some of the words that I wrote down include sliver, carding engine, and speed frames. While looking for definitions I had to use my Google keyword search skills, which I learned at the very beginning of the school year. Knowing what these things meant helped me further comprehend Jamie when we video chatted. Lastly, we brainstormed questions that we could ask Jamie during the chat. Going into the video chat with basic knowledge of the mill industry really helped me learn the most from Jamie.
Jamie the tour guide

            The video chat was really cool! Jamie was very nice and he seemed to know everything about the mills. The only downside to the video chat was that the audio and video were a little choppy at times, but otherwise it was a really fun and informative experience. Although it was interesting to read about the machines that were used it was so much better to be able to learn about them with Jamie. My favorite part of the video chat was when Jamie threaded a piece of thread thru a small hole in one of the shuttles in order to get it ready to be used in a machine. He showed us how the mill girls would inhale thru the hole to get the thread through. Inhaling through the hole exposed the girls to unhealthy amounts of chemicals that were in the oil that was on the hole. After Jamie was done telling us about how the shuttle was threaded he did it himself. It was pretty gross, and he said that the thread went down the back of his throat. I got the opportunity to ask Jamie about how the machines held up over time, and if they broke down very often. He told me that the machines held up very well, and that some of the old machines are still being used today in factories in developing countries because they were built so well. Being able to talk to Jamie was strange because I had never video chatted before, but it was also exciting and informative.
One of the shuttles that Jamie threaded

            This video chat with Jamie and Darren was the coolest thing that we have done all year in history class. I learned a lot more about the mills in the video chat than I could have learned from any other format. I liked how I could ask a question and get an answer from an expert, and how different this class was. The only thing that I didn’t like was the choppy video and audio. I would really like to do this with other experts later in the year!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Is It Even Possible To Industrialise The Curating Process?

                Curating an exhibit is tough work. You have to consider which way someone is going to read something (usually left to right), choose the key documents and pictures to display, write an informative and catchy title, advertise the exhibit, write short descriptions of the items, and take care of several other small details that can really affect what people think of your exhibit.
                Earlier this week I was put into a group with four of my classmates. We were told to learn about the Industrial Revolution and how people were affected. We received several documents and pictures which we analyzed together. Our analysis process consisted of answering several questions about each document. These questions include the author, date, location, why it was created, and what a visitor should learn from this. The analysis process of curating an exhibit is crucial because without complete knowledge of the sources you can't fully explain their contents to a visitor. Our exhibit (pictured below) shows that the increase in demand for cotton led to an increase in slavery. Our documents include a map of the cotton trade, the title page for a teaching kit, statistics about cotton production in Lowell and the slave population, a graph showing slave populations, a picture of the Boott Cotton Mill, and a diagram of The Water Frame. Our title was “Prosperity At The Cost Of People.” We chose to use this title instead of the several others that we came up with because it best captured the theme of our poster. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come up with super clever titles. We hope that people who look at our exhibit will learn about how slave populations skyrocketed in the United States as the demand for cotton in the mills increased during the Industrial Revolution. Here is a picture of our completed poster.

                The following pictures are of my classmates' exhibits which touch on other aspects of the Industrial Revolution.

                I learned a lot from each of these posters. The first poster that I looked at was titled "Is The Pain Worth The Gain?" I really liked this title because I knew exactly what I was about to learn about without looking at anything else. I learned about the horrible job the children did of pulling a cart thru a tiny tunnel. I also learned that a good portion of the workers in these cotton factories were under 10 years old. At the next exhibit I learned about how polluted the rivers were because of the new machines and factories. I also learned about how neighborhoods were being destroyed with these new factories. The next exhibit talked about the steam engine, which is still used in current times. I learned about how the steam engines work, and about how goods reached new places because of the trains that ran on the steam engine. The final exhibit that I visited mentioned the loom and had a nice timeline of how and when the loom was improved upon. The title was very creative and a bar graph helped me visualize the population increase in London. I had a great time learning using my classmates' work and I look forward to future projects like this one.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Industrial Revo.. what?

A few days ago we started learning about a new topic. Yay! My class has started studying a time period called the Industrial Revolution. We began our learning by splitting into groups. Our teacher then assigned each group a different aspect of this time period to research. My group learned about how the Industrial revolution affected the people. Our findings helped our class answer the essential question for that day which was, “what was ‘revolutionary’ about industrialization?” This question is asking us about the Industrial Revolution and the new things that it brought about with it. If you haven’t guessed already, the essential question is the question that we aim to be able to answer at the end of the class.
                The people benefited greatly from the advances during this time period. Many new methods of farming were discovered. The Dutch led the way in using fertilizer on their crops, small fields were combined into large ones, different varieties of soil were mixed to create a better harvest, and turnips were planted between seasons in order to renew the soil. Lots of land that was previously owned by peasants was taken over by wealthy farmers who fenced off the land and were able to cultivate crops quicker. This fencing off of land during this period is called enclosure. As profits continued to rise among the farmers an increasing number of peasants were unemployed. These poor former farmers became the people who ran the machines during this time period. The death rate declined and a population boom occurred because the agricultural revolution led to less famine. The women started eating better and had healthier babies who were stronger and added to the population. Sanitation also became important and health care improved.
                Transportation was greatly improved with the invention of the steam boat and the steam locomotive. The newly invented steam engine powered these new forms of travel. Steam boats couldn’t carry much because of the large amount of coal that had to also be carried in order to get around. Eventually people started towing the cargo in a separate hull instead of in the same steam boat. The steam locomotive helped both people and goods get between places quicker. Turnpikes were built to transfer goods quickly, but the use of a turnpike required a small fee. Many railroads were built for fast transport. Both of these modes of transport and travel were very quick in relation to the machines before them, and they allowed goods from far away to reach new places.
Fig. 80.-The Clermont, 1807.