What’s So Noteworthy About the Refrigerator Railcar?

Some technology is so woven into our lives that we barely notice it. We go about our daily routines without giving it a thought, yet, were it not for these advancements, our routines would be very different. The refrigerated railcar is such a technology. Many of us would hardly consider this technological advancement worthy of mention among such obvious achievements as the printing press or the radio. But this single development may be the most important factor in what we eat, how our food is produced, and where we live. Look at the food in your refrigerator. Where did it come from? How did it get to you? How would your life be different without it? The answers to these questions are all part of the story of the refrigerated railcar. In this Inquiry Unit, students explore the evolution of refrigeration transportation technology, the economic and political factors that contributed to it and the impact it has had on our society and culture.

IEEE REACH creates free units of study, following the Inquiry Design Model, that engage your students in an exploration of the interaction of technology and history. Our C3 units span the spectrum of history from Athenian triremes to military drones, all while honing historical thinking skills like document analysis and persuasive writing. Every unit is the product of professional research by historians of engineering and technology adapted for high school students by experienced educators – and everything we offer is free to teachers and their students!

Technology is an integral part of history. It didn’t start with STEM – it’s been there all along. No matter your level of technological understanding, you can bring the stories of technology and engineering into your history classes with IEEE REACH. Registration is easy, fast, and everything is FREE! Create an account today, and bring technology and history together in your classroom – just like it is in real life!

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