Teacher's Guide for COBBLESTONE ® Panama Canal
Teacher Guide prepared by: Jean West, education consultant and COBBLESTONE® contributor.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
- Use the map on page 9 as the basis for a backdrop design for a bulletin board. Create a template with either a lock or ship outline for students' use.
- Ask students to review the April 2001 issue and create a list of significant dates in the history of the canal, from its initial proposal by King Charles of Spain in 1534 to the turnover of the canal to the Republic of Panama in 1999.
- Either assign or allow students to select one of the dates and illustrate the event on one of the timeline templates. Students should assemble the illustrated templates in chronological order on the map backdrop, starting at Colón on the Atlantic side of the canal and ending in the Pacific Ocean.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST
- The gold and silver system for Panama Canal employees reflects the social, racial, and economic values from a century ago. How do modern organizations attract critical workers for dangerous or difficult jobs? What do differing pay scales and benefits (for example, the difference in income for a top professional athlete or musician compared with a heart surgeon or a big city fire chief) say about modern values?
- If the benefit of a project, for example the eradication of AIDS or the prevention of terrorism, would help the entire world, should the United Nations be able to go into any country to carry it out, even if the country objects? Why or why not?
Create a list of similarities and differences between the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal. Items to consider might include:
Ask students to write a five paragraph essay comparing and contrasting the Panama and Suez Canals.
- Who constructed it?
- Where was it constructed?
- When was it constructed?
- What bodies of water did it connect?
- How long is the canal?
- Are locks used in the canal? If so, how many?
- Was there too much or too little water in the canal construction area? How was the problem solved?
- Was the land in the canal construction area flat or mountainous? How much rubble was removed? What methods were used to remove rock and soil?
- Was disease a problem?
JUST FOR FUN
- Imagine you are a Panama Canal worker (one of the steam shovel operators, one of the members of a mosquito squad, an explosives expert, a nurse, or other worker) and write a letter to your family describing what it is like living and working on building the Panama Canal.
- Write a series of diary entries about your experiences in Panama from the point of view of one of the following historical figures: Ferdinand de Lesseps, Dr. William C. Gorgas, John F. Stevens, or the captain of the S.S. Ancón.
- Study the photograph on page 5 with President Theodore Roosevelt, the shovel operator, visitors and canal workers. Pretend you are a newspaper reporter, think about who you might interview about Roosevelt's visit to the canal construction site and the setting details you will want to include, and then write a column for your newspaper.
Divide the class into six teams: Gatun 1, Gatun 2, Gatun 3, Pedro Miguel, Miraflores 1 and Miraflores 2. Each team should create a "lock basin" and boat (pp. 31 - 32), and label it with the team name. Assemble the locks in order (refer to the map on page 35). Ask each team to race its boat through all six locks, timing each team. The team whose ship goes through all the locks in the shortest time should be awarded the "Order of Theodore Roosevelt," either a small teddy bear or teddy bear shaped medallion.
- OR -
Measure out a course that is 2,220 feet long, the distance which represents the perimeter of a Panama Canal lock. Challenge students to walk the course six times. When students have completed the challenge, or as much as they can complete, ask them how they feel. Ask them how they might have felt carrying a gallon of milk in each hand for the entire distance. Then, ask the students to imagine the work involved in digging to a depth of six stories into the ground along all the distance they have walked and the entire area within that circuit. Discuss the physical challenge to workers who built the canal.