Monday, October 5, 2015

The Transatlantic Cable

Students in 9th grade are learning about the new technologies in communication and travel that occurred during the 19th century. 

One of the most interesting stories is the epic task of laying the transatlantic cable across the ocean.  It was an elaborate process.

The first cable worked for a few months and then the insulation was compromised.

The second cable broke midway in 1865.

The third cable succeeded in 1866.  It was laid by the gigantic ship The Great Eastern with a huge spool that released the cable to the ocean floor.  After the third cable was laid down, the second cable was retrieved and  spliced (reconnected) to another cable which was brought to North America.  This was no easy task:  huge grappling hooks streamed across the bottom of the ocean 2 1/2 miles below. Once the two cables were up and running communication between the two continents was immediate.  Soon, cables were laid across the other oceans and the world was "girdled" with these communication tools. 

In Jules Verne's classic Novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Below the Sea, Captain Nemo sees the cables lying on the ocean floor.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Welcome Back!

Mrs. Olsen is happy to be back teaching school this fall.  She will be teaching 5 sections of Twentieth Century I and one section of Twentieth Century II.   For the new 9th graders...welcome to High School!   For the returning 10th graders, the nightmare continues (just kidding).  After 13 years of teaching AP European History, she's taking a break and focusing on World History.   Every year she goes somewhere interesting to learn about a topic that will help her to be a better teacher.

This year, she was in Leesburg, Virginia with some teachers from Germany.  They were learning about the Marshall plan and the rebuilding of Europe after the destruction of World War II.  She even had dinner at Marshall's dining room table, where Presidents Truman and Eisenhower had sat.  The most important thing she learned was that Europeans still express appreciation for the generosity of the American Economic Plan.   You can see some of her pictures from the workshop on her Instagram: SigridAnnOlsen.  She also spent some time in the parks, rivers, and beaches of Oregon.

But enough of that: fall and the time to learn is upon us.  You can expect to have every class be full of interesting tasks and lots of learning.  We'll be starting with the Industrial Revolution with the 9th graders and the Cold War with the 10th grade.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Battles of Rzhev 1942-1943

Students in 9th grade history are learning about the rise of the dictators and World War II.

They will be studying the major battles of World War II. One of the great titanic group of battles occurred on the Eastern front.   This group of battles was called the Rzhev meat grinder.  It covered a large tract of land that was virtually destroyed by end of the conflict.

Only 150 civilian inhabitants were left in the area of the former population of 56,000 was left.  The death toll for the Soviets numbered in the hundreds of thousands--around 450,000 at best estimates.  On the Soviet side, many of the troops were young and inexperienced.  There were continual accounts of slaughter of young recruits.

The area was called the "meat grinder."   The assaults resulted in many changes of command as leaders were fired, replaced, or even rehired.    

The Rzhev battles were important:  they drew off vital forces from the Stalingrad conflict and the end result was the eventual retreat of Germany from Russian territory.  The losses of the Soviet Union surpass any other nation in the history of the world: conservative estimates are 25 million military and civilian deaths. 

The death toll led to the formation of the Cold War.Russia justified its occupation of Eastern Europe as just compensation for its losses in the war. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Disaster Legislation and the Great Burn of 1910.

Students will be studying the impact of disaster legislation in a mini unit on cause and effect. Some of the topics students are cases of which students are already familiar.  However, I am adding a few new examples to help with the comparisons.  One of the disasters will be about the Great Burn of 1910--which affected a large part of Northwestern Montana and the Idaho panhandle.  It led to sweeping change in forest fire fighting practices, the organization of the forest service and forest management.

The Great Burn had many gripping stories of tragic deaths and survival under difficult conditions.  For example and entire crew of 28 firefighters were lost when they became trapped.  This has always been called the "lost crew."  One of the more exciting stories was Ed Pulaski, who led his crew to a small mine shaft where he forced them to stay, even at gunpoint, until the fire passed over them.  The conditions in the mine shaft were suffocating--but 35 out of the 40 men lived.

The disasters and legislation we'll refer to are the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the Great Burn, the sinking of the Titanic, the Chicago Tylenol Murders, 9-11, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Floyd Collins stuck in a cave....1925.

 Floyd Collins hoped to find another entrance to the Mammoth Caves or possibly a new cave along the road to the Mammoth Caves and to draw some of the visitors to them.

On January 30, 1925, Collins managed to squeeze through several narrow passageways; he claimed he had discovered a large chamber, though this was never verified. Because his lamp was dying, he had to leave quickly before exploring the chamber. He became trapped in a small passage on his way out. He accidentally knocked over his lamp, putting out the light, and in the dark he dislodged a rock from the ceiling, pinning his left leg.

After being found the next day by friends, crackers were taken to him, and an electric light was run down the passage to provide him light and some warmth. Collins survived for over a week while rescue efforts were made: when he was finally reached  he was already dead from exposure.  They left his body in place and filled the shaft with debris. A doctor estimated he had died three or four days before he was reached, with February 13 the most likely date.

Two early radio stations gave updates about Floyd Collin's rescue.  This was a time when early radio stations had the power to "telescope" a case into one that played out on the national stage.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Russian Romanov Royal family and the start of the Russian Revolution

Students are learning about the fall of the Russian Royal family, and the beginning of the communist government in Russia...which would be renamed the Soviet Union.

The immediate members of the royal family were all killed at Ekaterinburg, Siberia, in the summer of 1918.   Their bodies were hidden in the ground, after the bones were dissolved.  Despite the imposter, Anna Anderson, who for decades claimed she was the lost princess Anastasia, it was known that the entire family had perished.   Their demise had been detailed by one of the assassins who bragged about his role to the American Haliburton.

Russian Royal culture continues to influence cultural and  fashion trends.  The imperial easter eggs, the richness of the traditional dress, and the beauty of the four royal sisters belongs to a different time.  Many of the Romanov jewels were sold abroad to raise money for Stalin's great industrialization of Russia:  the two five year plans.

A new imperial egg was rediscovered recently.  It's quite a story!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Panama Canal Expansion...stay tuned!

In early January, ninth grade students learned about the building of the Panama CanalTeddy Roosevelt was the president who led this project.  It was an extension of America's imperial expansion.

What a project it was!  Ten years, many deaths, and tons of earth moved.  The very best engineering practices of the day were used.

Now, by 2016, the Panama Canal is in the process of being enlarged.   This time it will be able to take the huge "Cape sized" containers needed to increase trade between the two oceans.  

The program consists in the construction of two new sets of locks - one on the Pacific and one on the Atlantic side of the Canal.

The program also entails the widening and deepening of existing navigational channels in Gatun Lake and the deepening of Culebra Cut.

In 2016, there should be some celebrations in the news about this exciting event.