Putting It All Together
Navesink and Robbins Reef Lighthouses had a significant impact on improving access to and thus on the growth of New York Harbor and the nation’s maritime trade as a whole. The following activities will help students apply what they have learned.
Activity 1: Advancements in Lighting
Have the students work individually or in groups to conduct further research on the history of lighting technology in American lighthouses using the library and the Internet. After gathering information about lamps, illuminants, lenses, lighting experiments, and inventors from colonial times to the present, ask the students to create a timeline showing how lighting technology has changed. Have them consider how lighting technology corresponds with other technological innovations discussed in their textbooks. Allow the students to present their timelines and findings to the class.
Activity 2: Living at a Lighthouse
Using the information provided in the lesson, have students imagine that they are lighthouse keepers or lighthouse keepers’ wives or children. Have them write diary or journal entries about what life might have been like for such a person living at Navesink Lighthouse or Robbins Reef Lighthouse in the late 19th or early 20th century. Have students compare accounts and summarize the different aspects of life described.
Activity 3: Transportation in the Local Community
Divide the class into small groups and have each group research one transportation system (maritime, railroad, roads, airplanes, or subways) that was historically important in the community. Have them investigate to the following questions: What impact did changes in technology have? How dangerous was their type of transportation? What kind of technology was used, if any, to ensure the safety of people and goods using or working on the system they are studying? How did their system affect the local economy? What types of workers were needed? How did technological changes affect their duties? Did technology eventually replace the workers? Are there any surviving resources associated with the various types of transportation that have been used over the course of the community’s history?
To gather information on how their regional transportation systems evolved, students might contact a local transportation office, use newspaper archives, research collections at local historical societies, or conduct interviews with area residents.
Ask each group to report to the class after they have completed their research. Hold a general classroom discussion to compare the information they have found with what they have learned about the role of lighthouses and other aids to navigation in maritime travel and commerce.