Who invented the traffic light? And…how do today’s high-tech traffic systems differ from those first simple signals? When did household mechanical appliances appear on the domestic scene? How did they become mainstream, and how have they changed with the times? The Gilded Age saw the patenting of many new products and the birth of corporations. But how did Americans and consumers worldwide find out about the newest and grandest innovations? One way was through World’s Fairs.
Especially between the 1870s and 1930s, multiple World’s Fairs and Expositions showcased inventions of the modern world, both useful and trendy, and predicted innovations of the future (not always very accurately!). At Hamilton Southeastern High School, Mrs. Gelhar-Bruce’s U.S. History classes recently recreated a World’s Fair as part of their study of this historical era. Students, working individually or in pairs, investigated the birth and development of an innovation that was meaningful to them. During the project culmination, the Gelhar-Bruce World Exposition, students presented their products and inventions to classmates. Each student or group chose their topic and presentation mode, keys to fostering student engagement. The Gelhar-Bruce World’s Fair saw ‘in person’ marketing plugs, commercials, graphic representations, and even 3-D then-and-now recreations of inventions. Active, personalized learning that connects the past with students’ present experience. That’s HSE21 learning!