A number of activities and topics of interest are included in the blog posts below. For educational curriculum enhancers on Texas history, visit the Fort Bend Connection page.
World War I: Codebreakers!
By ALLISON HARRELL
Texian Time Machine & Outreach Coordinator
World War I saw the rise of the national agencies dedicated to breaking codes. While most nations had their own code systems and code breakers, a few Allied nations had notable agencies. The British had two code-breaking agencies: Ml 1 and Room 40. Room 40 had both highs and lows during the war. This naval code-breaking branch was responsible for deciphering the Zimmerman telegraph. This telegraph was sent from Germany to Mexico (though it was intercepted along the way) and it promised Mexico parts of the United States if Mexico would help Germany. The contents of this telegraph ultimately spurred the United States into entering World War I. Room 40's success with this telegraph was overshadowed by the naval mess that developed later between the German and British navy. The British were intercepting and decoding German orders, but the orders themselves were wrong (and the Germans were just as confused as the British). The British navy blamed the bad orders on Room 40, and didn't trust the code-breaking branch after that.
The American code-breaking agency was led by a man named Herbert Yardley (1889-1958), but his biggest inspiration actually came from the French. The French code-breaking agency employed a man named Georges Painvin. Before World War I, Painvin worked as a professor of geology and paleontology. After the war started, through a series of chance encounters and a few cases of just knowing the right people, Painvin ended up in the code-breaking agency. Painvin's claim to fame was cracking the German ADFGVX cipher.
Unlike the British, Painvin did not have the luxury of having a German code book on hand. He cracked the complex checkerboard code by hand and turned the tide on the German offensive against Paris. During the grueling process of deciphering this code, Painvin lost more than 30 pounds.
Code-Breakers: It's Your Turn!
The thaumatrope was at the cutting edge of science in 1824 — and is still a favorite hands-on activity for kids (and adults!) today. This simple historic toy was a precursor to modern animation. Part science, part history and part art, the thaumatrope works on the idea of “persistence of vision,” a flaw in the eye that causes an image to linger momentarily in the brain. Twisting the strings rapidly makes the two images appear to merge into one cohesive picture. Make your own thaumatrope today and then read below to discover science in the time of Texas' colonization!
Why Did One-Room Schools Not Focus on Science or History?
At that time of early Texas colonization, most of the events that we study today (like the American Revolution) had just happened. These events were so fresh on everyone’s mind that it wasn’t important to learn them in school -- especially when your father or grandfather might have participated in the war and could tell you more than any book.
Science in 1824
Science, on the other hand, was in a completely different place. Many of the tenets of science that we take for granted today had not even been thought of at the time. In 1824, the year the first legal land grant was issued in Texas, there were many scientific breakthroughs:
Texas in 1832
In 1832, the first rumblings of what would become the Texas Revolution was starting in Anahuac. Juan Davis Bradburn was trying to keep the peace and maintain the law, and was being thwarted at every turn by the increasingly resistant Anglo settlers. He later arresting the ever-popular William Barrett Travis.
Science in 1832
This blog post is adapted from a lecture by Allison Harrell called “Science in the Time of Texas Colonization.” To contact her about giving this lecture for your group or organization, email email@example.com.
By JESSICA AVERY
In the 1860s, Thomas Jefferson Smith, his wife Julia, and their children called the Long-Smith Cottage home. During that time, people made do without many modern conveniences such as running water, air conditioning and electricity.
To help them see in the dark, many people depended on candles and kerosene, an oily, petroleum fuel, for their light source. Kerosene became an affordable and popular choice throughout the country because it provided three times the brightness of a candle flame.
While kerosene and candles provided light, the smoke they generated posed a unique challenge, as it would leave black marks on ceilings. Thus, many people created special devices like the "revolving serpent" that would fan away the smoke and "smoke bells" that would collect the soot.
Now you can create you own spinning serpent and watch it spin around and around. But, just to be on the safe side, we suggest holding it over a lightbulb instead of a flame!
The Science Behind the Spin
So what makes the serpent spin? Well, that’s science! When air is heated, it expands as its molecules begin to spread out and away from each other. In turn, the hot air begins to rise and the cooler air sinks; however, once the cooler air reaches the heat source, the process will begin again. The warm moving air spins the spiral serpent around and around. The cycle of moving air is called a convection current and these currents are all around us. They play a part in our weather, ocean temperatures and are even used to cook food in our ovens.
Make It Yourself
The Timeline Game
By ALLISON HARRELL
Texian Time Machine & Outreach Coordinator
We've got a new history game for you today! The instructions are pretty simple:
Make Your Own Radio Show Activity
BY JESSICA AVERY
This Zenith TransOceanic Radio (1940s) was last on display at the Fort Bend Museum in 2015.
The History of Radio in a Nutshell
The golden age of American radio lasted from 1930 through the 1940s, and grew into the fabric of daily life in the United States. Radio provided news and entertainment to a country struggling with economic depression and war. Programming was varied and included soap operas in the afternoon, adventure series for children, science fiction, comedies and, of course, music!
During World War II there was a growth in network news that covered events happening overseas on the front. Some programming was used for propaganda purposes, while others aimed at keeping up the morale of the public. Some of the most popular shows during this time were Dick Tracy, The Green Hornet, Howdy Doody Time, The Lone Ranger and Superman.
Now an important part of making those shows come alive were the actors' voices, the music and the sound effects!
The Art of Foley
Foley is the art of creating and performing everyday sounds for television and movies. These sound effects include footsteps, wind blowing, rain, doors opening and closing and more. Many of the sound effects were developed by Jack Foley, and incredibly skilled sound effect artist, who developed a method for performing sound effects that were used during the live radio broadcasts in the 1920s. His sound effect techniques pioneered the methods that foley artists still use today.
Sound Effect Ideas
Make and Record Your Own Radio Show
Gone to Texas Survival Game
Got cabin fever? Take your family back to early pioneer days of Texas with the board game created by staff member Allison!
Gone to Texas: Survival Game!
Provided: (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF)
This single book book was designed to get children through eighth grade (after eighth grade, they were considered adults). The primers featured a number of subjects, including reading, writing and arithmetic. Use the following questions (in bold) to start your one-room school lesson!
What Subjects Were Taught in a One-Room School?
Reading, Writing and Arithmetic were the three main subjects (these were also called the "Three Rs" – Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic). Sometimes, the lessons would also include recitation and geography; however, science and history were typically not taught as they are today.
Since paper was a rare commodity in pioneer times, memorization was frequently used to teach lessons. Children would begin the school day reciting their homework to the class. It was called "toeing the line."
Questions to Ask While Looking through the Primer
With the uncertain and evolving COVID-19 health situation here in our community and around the world, our top priority is ensuring that our guests, volunteers and staff members stay healthy.
In response to the latest guidelines and information from the CDC and local officials, the Fort Bend History Association's Board of Trustees has decided to close the Fort Bend Museum through March 31. Additionally, acting out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our guests, supporters and staff, the following upcoming events will be impacted:
Executive Director, Fort Bend History Association
We want all visitors and guests of our programs to be safe and healthy while exploring Texas history. The Fort Bend History Association has practices that include daily cleaning and sanitizing here at the Fort Bend Museum — and we have implemented additional measures to ensure extra hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are available for all our guests at the front desk.
How you can help keep your family healthy from flu viruses or the coronavirus include:
Funding has been provided to the Fort Bend History Association from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
Fort Bend Museum Staff
The Fort Bend Museum is owned and operated by: