Begin the lesson by showing students the segment entitled "The Wreck of the Portland." Emphasize how scientists determined when the ship sank and how they found its remains.
Hold a class discussion about how the scientists found answers to their questions. Focus on the following questions:
Divide students into pairs and tell them their challenge is to research another shipwreck. They will determine why the ship sank, how information was gathered, and, if available, how individuals with different expertise worked together to find the ship. Students should write a report of their findings and include the following key points:
Students may choose from the shipwrecks listed below or research another one with teacher approval.
Allow students class time to prepare their reports; encourage them to include photographs or other pictures.
Ask volunteers to share their reports with the class. Try to include at least two different shipwrecks by the student presentations.
Conclude the lesson by discussing the role of technology in uncovering the reasons for a shipwreck. Does improved technology tell us more about recent incidents? Ask students to consider why it is important to understand what caused a shipwreck. What can we learn from these tragedies?
Definition: a freighter that sank on November 10, 1975, on Lake Superior, resulting in the death of 29 people
Context: Almost 30 years after the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, scientists don't know why it disappeared into icy waters.
Definition: an English ocean liner torpedoed by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915
Context: Claiming that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, the Germans attacked it, and more than a thousand people died.
Definition: a battleship that sank en route from Key West to Havana, Cuba, on January 25, 1898
Context: On August 5, 1910, experts excavated the USS Maine and determined that an explosion in the lower bunker caused it to sink.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
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