Social Studies

Social Studies (X) - High (X) - U.S. History (X) - World History (X)

Engineering the Jet Age

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Trace the emergence of the passenger jet from its military origins and learn about the obstacles and opportunities that Boeing’s president Bill Allen faced taking the company into the jet age, in this video from WGBH and The Documentary Group. After World War II, Boeing relied on sales of the B-47 bomber to keep the company afloat. This plane, which flew nearly 600 miles per hour at 35,000 feet, inspired Allen to conceive of a future in which commercial airline passengers would fly in jets. A decade after the close of World War II, Boeing delivered the 707. Within a year, more travelers were crossing the Atlantic by air than by sea. This resource is part of the Aerospace Engineering Collection.

The Uncertain Connection Between North Korea and Hackers | PBS Idea Channel

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The recent release of The Interview could have been a movie unto itself, involving hackers, a secretive foreign nation, an inept corporation and the United States government. After the Sony leaks, the FBI said North Korean hackers were to blame, and Obama put sanctions into place in response. Foreign policy was affected by this cyberattack! But, was North Korea really the one responsible? And if it wasn't behind the leak, and we can't identify our attackers, what does that mean for the 21st century? Watch the episode to find out more, and tell us what you think!

Atomic Bomb

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The decision to drop the atomic bomb caused political, social, and environmental changes that had unintended consequences for years to come. World War II veterans account their experiences with the atomic bomb in this KACV educational unit. The group includes video interviews with three veterans and a lesson plan.

The Railroad Journey and the Industrial Revolution | Crash Course World History

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Join host John Green to learn about railroads, some of the ways they changed the world, and how they were a microcosm for the Industrial Revolution as a whole. Prior to the invention of steam powered railroads, nearly all forms of locomotion had been muscle-powered. You either walked where you wanted to go or rode on an animal to get where you were going. The railroad changed human perception of time and space, making long distance travel much faster and easier. Railroads also changed habits, including increasing reading. People needed some sort of distraction. Like any new form of technology, railroads also scared people. All kinds of fears surrounded rail travel, but, over time, people got over them.

Do We Need a Better Archive of the Internet? | PBS Idea Channel

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The internet is an archive, but it may not be as effective as we think. It saves any media we can imagine (text, photographs, films, etc.), but what about information from the network? Status updates, tweets, image macros... they all seem to disappear into the ether. Are they not worth as much to us as physical objects? We archive things so we can remember them, so is this network ephemera not worth remembering? 

Does Animal Crossing Promote Otaku Citizenship? | PBS Idea Channel

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Like us, you may not have initially realized the significance of Animal Crossing. Sure, it's a simple game for kids, with cute animals and bright colors. But, could it be true that it inspires otaku citizenship?! Otaku refers to obsessive interest and collection, usually associated with Japanese culture, but it can apply to anything. In Animal Crossing, as mayor of your town, success is defined by maintaining friendships with your townspeople and collecting natural resources to cultivate the perfect town. Is this promoting otaku? 

What Does the SAT Really Test? | PBS Idea Channel

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How's that SAT prep going? Need some SAT tips? Well, here's one: The SAT may not actually be measuring your anything. That's right, your SAT scores, despite what colleges and high schools across America may like for you to believe, may not reflect anything new. There is actually substantial evidence that instead of broad aptitudes, the SATs only measure a specific set of non-quantitative, cultural values and ideas. Don't scratch those SAT dates off your calendar yet though, because it is still important, and on this week's episode of Idea Channel, let's look at why.

Could Sports Ever Replace War? | PBS Idea Channel

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The recent excitement over the World Cup made us think: could a competitive sporting event ever replace war? It's easy to see the similarity between games and warfare: both often involve strategy, cunning, and even (sometimes especially) national pride. Plus, sports are not completely without value in terms of international relations. History has shown that politically charged soccer games and "ping-pong policy" can impact diplomacy. But, could a match substitute true combat, and the results honored as definitive during global discord? Watch the episode to find out, and tell us what you think!

Do Upvotes Show Democracy's Flaws? | PBS Idea Channel

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Are upvotes democratic? The idea behind forums like reddit that use upvoting as 'community sourced decisions' is that compelling, unique posts will float to the top, and weak ones will sink to the bottom. Reddit is a democracy - much like The United States! However, in both cases, the notion of true democracy may well be an illusion. Does seeing upvotes promote more upvotes? Does provocative content beget more provocative content? Is all content created equal? Watch this episode to find out, and tell us what you think!

The Cold War and Consumerism: Crash Course Computer Science #24

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Today we’re going to step back from hardware and software, and take a closer look at how the backdrop of the cold war and space race and the rise of consumerism and globalization brought us from huge, expensive codebreaking machines in the 1940s to affordable handhelds and personal computers in the 1970s. This is an era that saw huge government funded projects - like the race to the moon. And afterward, a shift towards the individual consumer, commoditization of components, and the rise of the Japanese electronics industry.

Is the Internet Cats? | PBS Idea Channel

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I think we can all agree that the Internet has an intense, borderline obsessive appreciation for cats. With felines as its spirit animal, the internet can even seem cat-like in personality. Where does all this kitty love come from? Humans have made the internet, and humans have had an affinity for cats for centuries. But can we make the jump from "the internet loves cats" to "the internet is cats?" 

Is the Universe a Computer? | PBS Idea Channel

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is about everything in life and the universe. In the books, the "answer" is 42, but the question is unknown. To discover the question, a giant computer called Earth was built. Although it seems silly, perhaps Douglas Adams was correct. Maybe not just earth, but the whole universe, is an incredibility complex computational system, processing the answer to some unknown question. The universe is made of information, similar to a computer, and physics certainly is based on computational principles. But, is it running some grand program? 

LITERALLY OUR MOST AMAZING EPISODE EVER!!! | PBS Idea Channel

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"This is literally the best episode of Idea Channel EVER." Is it? Or are we just continuing the cultural trend of hyperbole? (side note: the episode is pretty gosh darn enjoyable) It's like EVERY SINGLE THING people describe is AWESOME and AMAZING and THE BEST. We're all seemingly competing to have the ultimate meaningful experiences, so how are we supposed to articulate genuine sentiment? I mean it's THE WORST I cannot even. Literally, I can't even find words to accurately describe the limits to our vocabulary and our ability to express true enthusiasm. So where does our vernacular develop from here? 

Coffee, Mesmerism, and Morning Routines | PBS Idea Channel

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This episode is about glorious morning coffee. Or, more specifically, about our time-tested morning routines. Everybody has their morning routine that they rely on and cling to dearly. The simple acts of brewing coffee, showering, and whatever else you do makes that first act of climbing out of bed easier. The comfort and familiarity of those repeated actions give us a sense of ownership, and cause us to self identify with these simple set of actions. So what is it about these routines that make them so important to us? Watch the episode to find out, and tell us what you think!

What Do Hot Sauce Labels Say About America? | PBS Idea Channel

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Peppers are the essence of hot sauce, and hot sauce is the essence of spicy. You might be a hot sauce lover, but how much thought have you given to their labels? If you've ever taken a second to examine them, you might notice some patterns and similarities amongst them. What does this say about Americans' attitude towards hot sauces, or even towards food in general? 

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