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Canal Connection


Students will learn more about the Panama Canal and its importance to trade, travel, and exploration.  Using the 1915 Panama-Pacific 50-dollar coin, students will locate the Panama Canal and identify its historical significance.


After reading June 2007 Coin of the Month, ask the students to discuss and summarize the information in small groups.  Students should identify the events that the coin commemorates.  Ask students what features on this coin celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal?  Have the students describe where the Panama Canal is located, how it impacts travel, and why it was important to trade and exploration.  Have students research trade routes before the building of the Panama Canal and after.  What changed?  What lasting impact did the Panama Canal have?

Have students present their findings on group maps.  One map should demonstrate trade, travel, and exploration before the Panama Canal was built.  The second map should demonstrate trade, travel, and exploration after the completion of the Panama Canal.  Students should then graph their findings based on the information researched.  Graphs can illustrate time, distance, and amounts traded before and after the completion of the Panama Canal.


Have students locate and research other waterway systems of the world.  These can include dams, levees, bridges, or canals.  Students can them compare and contrast the Panama Canal to these other waterway systems.  Have students showcase their findings using maps, graphs, and pictures.

Standards Reflected

The project described above reflects some of the national standards of learning as defined by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and the International Society for Technology in Education.  These standards are listed below:

Social Studies Standards

    Time, Continuity, and Change:  Students will compare and contrast international trade, travel, and exploration before and after the completion of the Panama Canal.

    Science, Technology, and Society:  Students will examine the impact that advancements in science and technology, such as the Panama Canal, have on society.

Mathematics Standards

    Representations:  Students will construct graphs that represent the changes in trade, travel, and exploration before and after the construction of the Panama Canal.

    Data Analysis and Probability:  Students will construct graphs to represent and compare data collected about various water way systems including the Panama Canal.

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