Students learn about how new equipment and technologies change farm life, and watch a video about the introduction of mechanization with the tractor. They then write a dramatic or humorous dialogue between a father and son arguing for horses or tractors.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Iowa | Unit 6: Industry: Lumber, Grain, Coal, Agriculture." In this unit, students will investigate the major successes and challenges of resource use in Iowa.
H.SS.4.25: Analyze the impact of technological changes in Iowa, across time and place.
H.SS.4.26: Explain how Iowa’s agriculture has changed over time.
FL.SS.5.17: Give examples of financial risks that individuals and households face. (21st century skills)
An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
Notebooks or loose-leaf paper
Describe to students the major changes that occurred when “equipment” advanced for farmers. The hand plow was slower than hooking up the plow to horses, which is slower than using a tractor to plow. Whenever something can be done faster, it can replace the method used previously. This can take away jobs, reinvent roles, and change dynamics in relationships. Tell students they will watch a video about the transition of Iowa farm technology in the early 20th century.
Play the video, Mechanization on the Farm in the Early 20th Century. [3:22]
Ask students, “What are some of the pros and cons of tractors versus horses?”
Break students into pairs and have them write a dialogue (conversation) between a father and son arguing for horses or tractors respectively. The dialogues should include the father and son mentioning some of the pros and cons, talking through possible outcomes of either option, and ultimately reaching an agreement. Students have the choice to make the dialogue dramatic or humorous.
If time allows, some pairs can act out their dialogues to the class.
Advantages of the horse: can grow the horses’ feed, can raise the current horse’s replacement, didn’t compact the soil, horses would turn around for you at the end of the row, horses could pull the wagon while the farmer walked behind and picked the corn
Advantages of the tractor: faster, could plow/seed/fertilize multiple rows at one time, allowed farmers to be more independent, could farm much larger tracts of land, fewer hands needed to get the work done