Lesson Plan

Shaping the Future

photo of a young boy on a beach in front of a box kite. He has on a sun hat and his right hand on his hip. In his left he is holding a fish.

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
State Standards:
North Carolina State Standards: 

8.H.3.2 Explain how changes brought about by technology
and other innovations affected individuals and groups in North Carolina
and the United States.
Additional Standards:
North Carolina State Standards: 

W.8.4 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.

Essential Question

How did the events of December 17, 1903 impact transportation, communication, and business in the United States?


The student will be able to:

a) compile a sequence of events and construct a timeline,

b) analyze the importance of these events and how they affected individuals in North Carolina and the United States, and

c) utilize technological resources to present information in an interactive method.


The accomplishment of controlled flight by man was a major turning point for transportation, communication networks, and business across North Carolina, the United States and the world. The significance of this one event cannot be over-stated. By analyzing the trials, failures, and successes and the future impact on various areas of commerce students will be able to immerse themselves into the experience of the first flight and understand the impact on the trajectory of our modern world.


This lesson will focus on the impact of the Wright brothers first flight and how it impacted the United States in three areas: transportation, communication, and business from 1900-1930. For a timeline of these events, please visit:




For this project student will need computer and internet access. Download the full lesson plan by clicking the lesson materials link below.

Download Lesson Materials

Lesson Hook/Preview

Students will create an interactive timeline depicting the events from 1900 to 1903 including the accomplishment of first flight by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC and the impact on future generations. 


1. (20 mins): Each student receives three post-it notes. Each student writes down three things: (1) a dream vacation destination, (2) their favorite restaurant, (3) their dream job. Each student places these at the top of their desk. Once complete, in groups or as a whole class, explore the Smithsonian Wright brothers Exhibit by visiting: https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online/. Once the class has a foundational understanding of the Wright brothers accomplishments have each student go back to their notes and determine how first flight impacts each of their picks. 

2. (30-40 mins): Once students have analyzed the impact of first flight to their own personal choices, divide the class into groups of 3-4 students. Each group is assigned one of the following sub-categories to research and develop a Prezi presentation. https://prezi.com/
 Sub-categories:  (a) Events leading up to first flight from 1900-1903
 (b) Transportation in 1900 vs. today:
 - What types of transportation did the Wright brothers have available 
 to get to Kitty Hawk vs. transportation that is available today?
 (c) International communication in 1900 vs. today:
 - What types of communication did the Wright brothers have 
 available vs. today?
 (d) Business in the United States in 1900 vs. today:
 - What businesses did the Wright brothers own and how did this 
 impact their development of the 1903 Flyer?
 (e) Military operations in the United States in 1900 vs. today:
 - What military contracts did the Wright brothers try to win from
 the U.S. government? What was the outcome of these contracts?

3. (20 mins): Once students have completed their Prezi presentation, each group will choose one event that they feel was significant and present this portion of their Prezi to the entire class. 


Commerce - The activity of buying and selling, especially on a large scale.

Transportation - The action of transporting someone or something or the process of being transported.

Assessment Materials

Teachers can utilize rubric or student groups may grade each other’s presentations as time allows.

Concluding Questions:

-  How did the Wright brothers’ achievement of flight have an impact on the three areas that you chose at the beginning of class?

-  If Wilbur had followed his dream of becoming a sports star, what do you think the impact on flight would be today?

-  Do you think that the achievement of powered flight or controlled flight has had a greater impact on flight travel today?

Ticket-out-the-Door: If you were a witness to the first flight on December 17, 1903, what would you tweet about the event? #.........


Enrichment Activities

(30min) If time allows, complete a timeline of significant events from 1900-1930 that outlines the progress of flight. This activity can be done using a whiteboard or via https://time.graphics/

Additional Resources






The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

Contact Information

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Last updated: September 4, 2020