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Social Studies

Viewing Ideas


U.S. History Pre-1800 to Present

Building on Ground Zero
Make a list on the board of your school's safety features. Have students create a data sheet for each floor (or wing) of your building...

Codebreakers
Conduct a debate with students about whether it is ever acceptable to read another person's mail or listen to a private conversation...

Decoding Nazi Secrets
Discuss the meanings of codes and ciphers using the information presented...

Escape! Because Accidents Happen -- Car Crash
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for people ages 6 to 27. Have students brainstorm a list of traffic laws...

Escape! Because Accidents Happen -- Fire
Find out what students know about fire safety by having them imagine the following: You are in a packed movie theater when you hear someone yell "Fire!"...

Faster Than Sound
How fast is the speed of sound? It depends on what temperature the air is. The generally accepted speed through air is...

Forgotten Genius
Review with students a time line of Julian's life as well as the Jim Crow laws -- state and local laws enforcing racial segregation -- in force during much of his life...

Great Escape
Review with students the basic facts of World War II, including the Allied and Axis players, major battle sites and victories, and time line of events...

Hitler's Lost Sub
To get students thinking about buoyancy, ask them this: Boats are made out of iron and steel, which are denser than water. Why don't they sink?...

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial
Ask students to describe the nature of science and the process by which scientists investigate the natural world...

Last Flight of Bomber 31
Have students use a globe or world map to locate the following places featured in this program...

Lincoln's Secret Weapon
Deep-sea diving is dangerous. Have students list some of the considerations associated with deep-sea diving...

Missing in MiG Alley
Discuss with students some of the events that led up to the Korean War, what the conflict was about, who was involved, and why the United States became involved...

Most Dangerous Woman in America, The
Review the following terms with your students: bacteria, contagious, epidemiology, infectious, and quarantine...

Pocahontas Revealed
Ask students to work in groups to make a time line of major events from the initial discovery of America by Paleo-Indians up until 1607...

Saving the National Treasures
Ask students what they think an artifact is. (It is an object made by a human.) Ask students to describe the personal artifacts they save...

Secrets of Making Money
Organize students into large groups, and give each group a newly designed $20 bill. Have students observe and list the characteristics of the redesigned U.S. currency...

Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies
To help students understand the program, review the following terms with them: code, cipher, plain text, base code, encoded message...

Spies That Fly
Ask students to list the challenges they think engineers face when designing an unmanned aircraft...

Wanted -- Butch and Sundance
Assign different students to "expert" groups. Each group should be given one of the following question sets as a focus for watching the program...

War Machines of Tomorrow
Before showing this program, have students look through magazines and newspapers from the winter of 1990-1991 for articles about The Persian Gulf War and create a list...

Who Killed the Red Baron?
Have students look at a map of Europe. Ask them to locate the northeastern section of France...

World in the Balance
Ask students to estimate how many people live in the United States (about 290 million)...

Wright Brothers' Flying Machine
Discuss with students the meaning of the following terms: control surfaces, wing warping, elevator, rudder, and aileron...


World History 1500 A.D. to Present

Arctic Passage
The Northwest Passage is the sea route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

Astrospies
Use Google Earth to simulate what satellites "see" from different distances from Earth...

B-29 Frozen in Time
Working and living in extremely cold conditions is a dangerous challenge. Before showing this program to the class, discuss with students what they know about extreme weather survival...

Codebreakers
Conduct a debate with students about whether it is ever acceptable to read another person's mail or listen to a private conversation...

Decoding Nazi Secrets
Discuss the meanings of codes and ciphers using the information presented...

Galileo's Battle for the Heavens
Ask students what they know about Galileo Galilei. Where and when did he live?...

Great Escape
Review with students the basic facts of World War II, including the Allied and Axis players, major battle sites and victories, and time line of events...

Hitler's Lost Sub
To get students thinking about buoyancy, ask them this: Boats are made out of iron and steel, which are denser than water. Why don't they sink?...

Last Flight of Bomber 31
Have students use a globe or world map to locate the following places featured in this program...

Missing in MiG Alley
Discuss with students some of the events that led up to the Korean War, what the conflict was about, who was involved, and why the United States became involved...

Secrets of the Parthenon
The Parthenon was conceived to embody the greatness of Greece and to celebrate Athens as the apex of that culture...

Secrets of the Samurai Sword
Have students brainstorm a list of common uses of metal alloys (e.g., a door frame, a doorknob, or a paper clip)...

Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies
To help students understand the program, review the following terms with them: code, cipher, plain text, base code, encoded message...

Sinking City of Venice
Have students use a map to locate the lagoon of Venice, Italy. Tell students the lagoon meets the Adriatic Sea at three inlets...

Spies That Fly
Ask students to list the challenges they think engineers face when designing an unmanned aircraft...

Sputnik Declassified
To help students understand the historical context in which Sputnik was launched, have them make a time line that includes political events on the top and space exploration events on the bottom part of the time line...

Voyage of Doom
Have students locate France on a world map or globe (preferably one with tradewinds or currents) and trace the possible route La Salle might have taken...

War Machines of Tomorrow
Before showing this program, have students look through magazines and newspapers from the winter of 1990-1991 for articles about The Persian Gulf War and create a list...

Who Killed the Red Baron?
Have students look at a map of Europe. Ask them to locate the northeastern section of France...


World History Prehistory to 1500 A.D.

America's Stone Age Explorers
Have students research the Clovis-first theory. Ask students to share their knowledge about the questions central to the program -- Who were the first Americans? Where did they come from? How did they get to America?...

Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land
Ask students to imagine that they are living in 2055. If they were excavating an American dwelling unchanged from 2005, what types of objects would they be likely to find that might provide evidence about the culture of the time?...

Deadly Shadow of Vesuvius
On a map of Italy, have students locate Mt. Vesuvius, Naples, and the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum...

Fall of the Leaning Tower
To give students an appreciation of the tower's weight, ask them to work in pairs to compare its weight (14,000 tons) to something familiar to them...

Great Inca Rebellion, The
Make a time line of Inca civilization on the board. Have students research and plot when Inca civilization began, when it peaked, and when it fell...

Ice Mummies -- Frozen in Heaven
Ask students what rituals or ceremonies they or their families participate in or know about, and why these are performed...

Ice Mummies -- Return of the Iceman
To set the stage, ask students to locate the Altay Mountains on a map and to calculate the approximate year the Ice Maiden died...

Ice Mummies -- Siberian Ice Maiden
This program features a number of archeologists who study the Iceman. But what exactly do archeologists do?...

Infinite Secrets
Archimedes made a number of mathematical and scientific discoveries in his lifetime. As they watch, have students take notes on Archimedes' key discoveries...

Lost King of the Maya
Copán is one of the most important archeological sites of Maya civilization. Using a world atlas, help students locate Copán...

Lost on Everest
As they watch, have students keep track of what equipment both early and modern climbers used during their ascent of Mt. Everest...

Lost Roman Treasure
Help students locate Zeugma on a contemporary world map or globe...

Lost Treasures of Tibet
Assign groups to research the basic tenets of Buddhism such as: Who was Buddha? What do Buddhists believe?...

Lost Tribes of Israel
Discuss and record characteristics of a traditional Jewish belief system. Some of these include...

Mummy Who Would Be King, The
Rameses I ruled during the New Kingdom period (1550-1070 B.C.), a time of tremendous growth for the Egyptian empire...

Neanderthals on Trial
The illustration below left, published in 1909, represents one of the first depictions of Neanderthals. The photograph on the right represents a modern interpretation...

NOVA scienceNOW: Maya
Locate and research Mayan cities...

Perfect Corpse, The
Have students share what they know about bogs from firsthand experiences or depictions on TV or in the movies. What do they think bogs are like?...

Search for the Lost Cave People
The team investigating the Zoque ruins includes a variety of skilled professionals who interpret artifacts and make conjectures about the people who left them...

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Colosseum
The team of experts in each program attempts to re-create a model of a time-worn structure using as much of the knowledge, resources, and tools available to their ancient counterparts as possible...

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Inca
These programs, which focus on ancient technologies, provide an opportunity for students to reflect on the relationship between science and technology...

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Obelisk
The team of experts in each program attempts to re-create a model of a time-worn structure using as much of the knowledge, resources, and tools available to their ancient counterparts as possible...

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Stonehenge
These programs, which focus on ancient technologies, provide an opportunity for students to reflect on the relationship between science and technology...

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- China Bridge
The engineers and other experts featured in each program make many inferences about ancient building techniques. They base their inferences on a variety of sources...

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Easter Island
The experts use different types of models to plan their construction strategies. Have students keep track of each model as they watch...

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Medieval Siege
Each program's story is driven by the question, "How did they do that?" The engineers and archeologists have developed hypotheses to answer that question...

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Pharaoh's Obelisk
The ancient building methods shown in the programs depend on the use of simple machines, including levers, ramps, pulleys, and wheels...

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Roman Bath
The engineers and other experts featured in each program make many inferences about ancient building techniques. They base their inferences on a variety of sources...

Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance
Have students locate Antarctica in an atlas and identify the following locations featured in the program...

Sultan's Lost Treasure
Have the students locate China, the China Sea, Vietnam, Thailand, and Brunei on a world map or globe and trace possible trade routes among the countries...

Titanic's Lost Sister
Was Britannic sunk intentionally by a torpedo from a German ship, or did she hit a mine? The evidence for both sides is substantial, but inconclusive. Why is it important to find out?...

Treasures of the Sunken City
Archeology teams often locate, identify, catalog, and map the artifacts they find. Have students generate a list of skills that team members should possess to be on a team like this...

Viking Deception, The
Ask students what they know about the Vikings and their colonization of other areas...

World in the Balance
Ask students to estimate how many people live in the United States (about 290 million)...


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