The Steamship Historical Society of America (SSHSA) announced today that it will go live tomorrow, Tuesday, May 22, with its new interactive educational website, STEAMing Into The Future. Located at www.shiphistory.org, the site will share some of the organization’s vast archives with a worldwide audience and give students the chance to work with primary sources related to the country’s transition from sail to steam in the early 19th century.
The Warwick-based nonprofit has been working on the program since 2013, and was assisted by grants from the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program and the Heritage Harbor Foundation.
“We’ve been working for several years now to create a resource to educate students about this critical period in American history while promoting the subjects of science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” SSHSA Executive Director Matthew Schulte said. “We’re excited that lesson plans are already in use in New England schools and that this interactive experience is on a student-friendly platform.”
The innovative website focuses on a period beginning in 1807 when the first commercially viable American steam engines were successfully powering ships. This began the transition from sail to steam power, and transformed shipping, commerce and travel across America. This had a wide-ranging effect on many aspects of the country, including immigration, trade and leisure.
In addition to archival content, the site includes full lesson plans for teachers who are interested in participating. So far, several school districts around the country are reviewing the curriculum so that they may include aspects of STEAMing Into The Future into their classrooms. Schools in East Greenwich, North Providence, Easton and Sandwich, Mass., and Pensacola, Fla., already have plans underway to utilize this resource.
“STEAMing Into the Future contains a wealth of educational resources for any educator,” said Darshell Silva, a librarian and technology integration specialist. “Whether you are looking for lesson plans, blended learning resources, primary sources, or maker resources you will find something to engage your students. Pairing the site information with a visit to the Ship History Center will provide an educational experience that your students will talk about for years to come.”
Work on this program began five years ago, when SSHSA won a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities to bring in a team of teachers and educational consultants to select artifacts and documents from its collections and provide feedback regarding what items and concepts were best aligned with 11th and 12th grade curricula. The additional grants that were secured allowed the scope to be broadened and shared beyond Rhode Island.
President Franklin Roosevelt, a well-known advocate for seafarers, former assistant secretary of the Navy, and an honorary member of SSHSA, established May 22 as National Maritime Day. Introduced to recognize the first transatlantic steamship crossing by the Savannah in 1819, celebrations have evolved over the years. Today, the day is largely known for paying special tribute to the sacrifices of the U.S. merchant marine and to the benefits that the maritime industry provides the country.
A national organization dedicated to the history of engine-powered ships, SSHSA’s Ship History Center on Post Road allows the public to experience all the bells and whistles of the steam era through its extensive archive of images, artifacts, periodicals, artwork, official records and memorabilia.
If you are interested in SSHSA’s education program, want to learn more about upcoming new content or field trip opportunities, or would like to provide feedback, please contact Education Coordinator Aimee Bachari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of SSHSA.