Travel by Train – US Geography and Culture
There is something special about a train which connects us more deeply to the places we travel through. This class will tap into that connection by taking students on a virtual journey on Amtrak, America’s inter-city rail network, focusing on three main areas: geography, history, and culture. This class is intended for middle and high school students.
Geography: Class will begin with a description of the train route we’ll be traveling along to reach our next destination. We will explore the geology, climate, flora, and fauna that are unique to the passing landscape.
History: Our destination will be introduced through a summary of the moments that shaped the city’s history. We’ll seek to answer key questions such as:
What caused this location to become a major city?
How did the advent/decline of the railroad impact the city’s history?
What role has this city played in the course of American history?
Culture: Students will leave class with a list of recommended music, literature, and art from this region. A recipe that highlights the region’s agriculture and cuisine will also be provided.
Students will be expected to have access to the internet to allow for participation in Zoom classes and for individual research. Students wishing to participate in the cooking element will need access to groceries and basic kitchen equipment. These activities are optional, and no grade will be assessed for this course.
Matthew Davenport earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University with a second major in Philosophy. After working five years with the US Army as a project engineer, he left to study the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard at St. Olaf College and renewed his faith at the English L’Abri Fellowship. Afterwards, he found his calling as a Classical Christian educator at Samuel Fuller School, where he taught math, science and logic and helped to launch their high school expansion. He currently works for Massachusetts General Hospital as a project manager in the Cancer Center.
Matthew lives in Worcester, MA with his wife and son, where he enjoys hiking, disc-golfing, gardening, playing piano, and learning more each day about the truth, goodness, and beauty of God’s creation. firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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This registration will be finalized when the student's placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.