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Teachers' Guide: Gamblers
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Use these activities with the hour of the series titled, "Gamblers." The hour profiles three innovators: Ruth Handler (Barbie, and marketing to children), Thomas Watson, Sr. (I.B.M.), and Juan Trippe (commercial air travel). Each segment is approximately 20 minutes long. These activities also draw upon They Made America's Web site resources.

The activities are grouped into 4 categories: civics, history, economics, and geography. You can also read a few helpful hints for completing the activities.


Economics | Geography | Civics | History

  1. One key point made in this episode is that innovation itself is only the first step; successful promotion and marketing of that innovation are essential. Ask your class to come up with their own innovation, a new way of doing things. Students may work in groups to brainstorm, then vote on the groups' ideas to find the top one. Once the class has arrived at their creation, have them work together to develop a promotion and marketing plan that will make it available to American consumers. Ask them to focus on the concrete steps that must be taken in the many stages between the invention of a product and its appearance in the marketplace.


Economics | Geography | Civics | History

  1. Have each student read a profile on this Web site of iconic innovations still available worldwide, like the McDonald's fast food chain, or the Barbie doll. Check the Who Made America? section for the complete list. Then, ask students to look up the present-day Web sites of the innovations; for example, the McDonalds or Barbie sites. Have students look at how the innovations are marketed around the world. What changes are made in selling an American innovation outside the United States? What different considerations must be taken into account? After students finishing their research, they should give an oral presentation to the class, using a world map labeled with four countries where the chosen product is now sold. Students should briefly describe how the product or the marketing in these countries differs from that in the United States.


Economics | Geography | Civics | History

  1. Like A. P. Giannini before him, Juan Trippe was not above using creative pressure tactics to achieve his business goals. On the receiving end, Gary Kildall is an example of an innovator who was driven out of business by a competitor's aggressive tactics. View the relevant film segments on Trippe and Giannini with your class, then ask them to research and report on the ways both men sought to get ahead of the competition. You might consider setting up the reports as a class debate. What limits would you set on the means an innovator can use to achieve a worthy goal?


Economics | Geography | Civics | History

  1. Virtually every innovator has faced a crisis point at some time in his or her career, a moment where he or she faced a great challenge and the possibility that it might not be overcome. Divide the class into four groups and have each pick a pair of innovators, one who succeeded in overcoming his or her particular crisis and one who failed. Then have each group report to the class on the particulars of the crisis moments. What challenge did the innovator face? How did he or she respond? What differences can you find between those who succeeded in the face of a great challenge and those who were overcome by it?

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 Rebels & Revolutionaries | Newcomers | Gamblers | Innovation 
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