Flower

Author Archive

Nelson Mandela’s Birthday: eLibrary Resources for the Classroom

On this day 99 years ago (July 18, 1918), Rolihlahla Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family in the South African village of Mvezo. The world would come to know him as Nelson Mandela, opponent of racialist policies, 27-year prisoner and eventually the first black president of South Africa.

While he is undoubtedly a hero for his pursuit of equality for all South Africans, history is complicated, and Mandela’s life and career provide the opportunity to examine justice, freedom and the moral considerations of revolution. Early protests against apartheid were largely unsuccessful and resulted in retaliation by the white-minority government. Mandela and others in the African National Congress came to the conclusion that armed resistance was necessary. This brings up some questions. “What is the difference between a struggle against an unjust government and a terrorist movement (which is what some called the ANC’s efforts)?” “Can the same question be asked in relation to the American Revolution?” “How did the West view Mandela and the situation in South Africa at the time?”

Mandela and President F. W. de Klerk negotiated a new constitution that would ensure rights for all and agreed on elections that would enfranchise the country’s majority black population–efforts that won them a Nobel Peace Prize. What cements Mandela’s legacy is his insistence on uniting his country in a climate of fairness. After the apartheid system was defeated and Mandela became president, he rejected a course of retribution against whites and made efforts to bring all of his countrymen together, much to the dissatisfaction of more militant voices. He helped form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated crimes committed by both the government and the African National Congress.

Nelson Mandela Research Topic

Nelson Mandela Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

ProQuest’s eLibrary can supplement your classes’ discussions of Mandela, African history, human rights and matters of justice. Besides all of the great articles, websites and other resources available in eLibrary that can be discovered while searching, also look for relevant Research Topics that can provide background, context and points of view. Here is a sampling:

Nelson Mandela

Apartheid in South Africa

F. W. de Klerk

South Africa

Human Rights

Imperialism

Drive-In Theater Anniversary, Pre-Summer Movie Study

By now school is winding down in most places, and students and educators are getting ready for some summer fun. It just so happens that today is the anniversary of an icon of summer entertainment: the drive-in movie theater. The first permanent drive-in was opened by Richard Hollingshead, Jr. in Pennsauken, New Jersey, on June 6, 1933. Although it didn’t last long, it started a craze that peaked in the 1950s, when more than 4,000 theaters were operating. That number has dwindled to a few hundred, with the latest challenge being the movie industry’s transition to expensive digital projection systems.

Lawrence of Arabia Research Topic

Lawrence of Arabia RT, eLibrary

Okay, so eLibrary doesn’t have a Research Topic on drive-ins, but it does have a number of pages related to film history, genres and specific movies. If you are still in school and you need to fill some of the last days with something fun but meaningful, how about encouraging your students to watch some great movies over the summer. You could discuss film criticism, the relationship between films and their literary source materials or just let students scoop up some trivia. If you are already out of school and you are still reading this, you might as well check them out for yourself and use them to enhance your own movie enjoyment as you take a much-needed break from school.

Motion Pictures
Talking Films
2001: A Space Odyssey

Gone with the Wind
The Godfather Films
Star Wars
Casablanca
Horror
Apocalypse Now
Lawrence of Arabia
Singin’ in the Rain
Alfred Hitchcock

This a limited list; we have plenty of pages on film directors, actors and movies. Just search around.

7 Summer Reading Titles for High School Students

Most school districts have summer reading lists to help keep students’ minds from turning to mush while away from school. The lists can vary wildly, with titles including the unquestionable classics to the latest in teen lit. eLibrary can help out with its many literature-related Research Topics, which can be used to introduce works to students before summer or can be accessed while they are reading over the break. So, here are a handful of  works with corresponding RT pages that you may want to suggest to your older high school students. Some of them have been controversial, but, hey, that’s probably why they appeal to teens.

Listed in order of publication date.

1. Brave New World  Although it was written all the way back in 1931, Aldous Huxley’s story of a world of social stratification, consumerism and a lack of privacy is still relevant.

Brave New World RT

Brave New World Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

2. The Catcher in the Rye  This 1951 work by J. D. Salinger is possibly the ultimate expression of teenage angst and rebellion, which, of course, got it in trouble with a lot of schools over the years.

The Catcher in the Rye RT

The Catcher in the Rye Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

3. Farenheit 451  Ray Bradbury envisions an American dystopia in which certain books are outlawed, confiscated and burned. Perfect for examining freedom of thought and speech.

Fahrenheit 451 RT

Fahrenheit 451 Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

4. Black Like Me  John Howard Griffin, a white man, dyed his skin and traveled around the American South as a black man. Another book that ties well with the study of American history due to its probing of racial attitudes and civil rights in the 1960s. Griffin had a very interesting life and is worth examining itself.

John Howard Griffin RT

John Howard Griffin Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

5. Catch-22  The phrase “catch 22” has become part of our language to describe a situation that is made impossible by contradictory rules, and it was Joseph Heller who coined it in his satirical novel about a bombardier in World War II.

Catch-22 RT

Catch-22 Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

6. Slaughterhouse-Five  “All this happened, more or less.” And off the reader goes into Kurt Vonnegut’s wild satire that is influenced by his own experience of witnessing the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, during World War II. Challenged by critics and a challenging read.

Slaughterhouse-Five RT

Slaughterhouse-Five Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

7. The Kite Runner  Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 bestselling novel delves into themes of guilt and betrayal that play out against a swath of Afghan history.

The Kite Runner RT

The Kite Runner Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Terrorism Resources in eLibrary

Osama bin Laden Research Topic

Osama bin Laden Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Next Tuesday, May 2, marks six years since Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The infamous terrorist leader of al-Qaeda had been wanted by the United States for a decade since he masterminded the attacks of September 11, 2001. While some may have thought that the success of Operation Neptune Spear would bring about some great sense of closure, the truth is that terrorism still never seems to be far from our minds. With the turmoil in Afghanistan and Iraq, the civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS and the churn of politics and the 24-hour news industry, it is difficult to get away from.

So, do you discuss it in class in the hope of helping students make sense of it or do you stay away for fear of stirring up anxiety? This post from a middle school teacher in which she talks about her experience and these guidelines from Operation250 and Facing History and Ourselves might give you some ideas on how to go about it.

If you decide to tackle the issue, eLibrary has many Research Topics that can provide your students information on terrorist groups, historical and contemporary incidents and the context with which to examine them. A good place to start is the ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Terrorism. This is a special page that compiles most of the terrorism Research Topics. You can use this page to easily see what we have and what you might want to use in the classroom, and you can even provide it to your students to allow them to browse. Of course, you and your students can also search around in eLibrary for more RTs and for up-to-the-day articles.

It’s National Engineers Week

Engineering is the science by which the properties of matter and the sources of power in nature are made useful to humans in structures, devices, machines, and products. An engineer is an individual who specializes in one of the many branches of engineering.

Engineering and Technical Science, The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference

There has been a lot of talk about in recent years about emphasizing STEM/STEAM in schools to help the U.S. fill jobs in many technical fields. One front in this effort is National Engineers Week, which in 2017 is February 19-25. Quoting from the website of DiscoverE, the organization behind it, National Engineers Week is intended to “Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world; Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers; Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents.” The site has activities, videos and other resources to help educators expose students to engineering concepts and career paths.

Engineering Research Topic

Engineering Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Teachers, eLibrary also has you covered. Of course, students and educators can search the database for lots of interesting articles, websites, transcripts and more relating to the various branches of engineering. But we also offer lots of Research Topics on specific topics in the sciences. They can be discovered while searching (look for drop-down lists while typing in search terms–many of the items here will return a Research Topic at the top of the results) and by browsing the list of all RTs. Here is a small sampling of relevant RTs to get your students started in exploring the impact of engineers and considering educational and career paths in the sciences:

Architect
Civil Engineer
Computer Software Engineer
Dams
Electrical Engineer
Engineering
Engineering Technician
Golden Gate Bridge
I-35W Bridge Collapse
Materials Science
Mechanics (Physics)
One World Trade Center
Skyscrapers
Three Gorges Dam

It’s Groundhog Day! How About Some Rodent Facts?

Rodents Research Topic

Rodents Research Topic page via ProQuest eLibrary

It is groundhog day again–it seems like the last one was only yesterday. A few years ago, a colleague did a great post on Groundhog Day itself, so I won’t repeat that here, but I started thinking about rodents (the groundhog is one). Here are a few rodent morsels on which to chew. (Ew, that didn’t sound right.):

Rodents are from the order Rodentia, and they account for around half of all mammal species. (Note about this link: This takes you to the subject browse area of eLibrary. Anything with a yellow star next to it includes a Research Topic page.)

-The word “rodent” comes from Latin word meaning “to gnaw.” This makes sense, considering that their large front teeth and gnawing habit are probably the things that most define them in our minds. They gnaw because those front teeth grow continuously and failure to wear them down would result in death from starvation or impalement of the skull.

-The smallest rodent is the pygmy jerboa, only about an inch long. The largest rodent in the world, currently, is the capybara, but its extinct cousin Josephoartigasia monesi was the largest ever, measuring in at eight feet. And just for the awwwww-factor, here is a picture of two cute baby capybaras with their mother.

-Among the common animals that are mistaken for rodents but are not, are the rabbit and the opossum, which is a marsupial. (Speaking of marsupials, here is a crazy one: the Tasmanian wolf. It became extinct in the 1930s, and scientists had hoped to bring it back through cloning. He sure doesn’t look like a kangaroo.)

-The porcupine IS a rodent, but the similarly spiky hedgehog, which also comes in a furry variety, IS NOT.

-Most rodent species are highly social. In an interesting experiment, a researcher showed that rats show empathy by working to free others from cages.

-While they were once killed in huge numbers for their pelts and to eliminate them as pests, beavers, the second-largest rodents, are becoming respected for the benefits they provide, including erosion prevention, improvement of fish and wildlife habitat and soil enrichment.

-On the other hand, some rodents can carry diseases deadly to humans, including plague and hantavirus.

Search around in eLibrary or browse our thousands of Research Topics pages for information on this topic and just about everything else.

Breaking News: King James I Assassination Plotters Executed!

On January 31, 1606, four men were dragged by horses (drawn) through the streets of London to the place of their execution. One by one, they were hanged by the neck until nearly dead and, while still alive, cut into four pieces (quartered). After having watched the three men before him suffer so horribly, Guy Fawkes was spared the agony by either falling or jumping from the scaffold and breaking his neck.

Fawkes, Robert Catsby, Thomas Percy, Thomas Wintour and John Wright, along with a number of others, had planned to blow up the House of Lords and King James I on the opening day of Parliament in November of 1605. They had hoped that the Gunpowder Plot, as it became known, would spur a revolt that would bring a Catholic monarch back to the throne and end a long period of persecution against Catholics.

Gunpowder Plot RT

Gunpowder Plot Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The conspirators had managed to place 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the House of Lords, but Fawkes was discovered guarding the powder and the assassination was foiled. Authorities had acted on an anonymous letter that tipped them off to the plan. Fawkes was tortured into giving up his associates, and all were tried and found guilty of treason. Somewhat ironically, the incident only spurred increased pressure on Catholics.

The foiling of the plot was celebrated with an official national holiday until 1859, and the tradition of Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) on November 5 persists to this day. Traditionally, the revelry included the burning of a Guy Fawkes effigy made from old newspaper-stuffed clothes and a grotesque mask. Children would go through town asking for “a penny for the Guy” to pay for the effigy and for fireworks. The word “guy” eventually entered everyday language, coming to refer to any male person.

Follow the links above to find more information, and be sure to do your own searches in eLibrary to find lots of articles, images, websites and our Research Topics on thousands of subjects.

Stay Up Late for the Leonid Meteor Shower

Have you ever seen a shooting star? If not, it is a pretty cool thing to see, and you might have your chance this week. The annual Leonid meteor shower is getting underway, providing skywatchers about a week of increased meteor activity, November 13-21, 2016. The peak of this year’s shower will be Thursday night (November 17) into Friday morning. But, If you want the best chance to see something, you’ll have to stay up very late; the show will not really get going until after midnight. And, since the frequency of sightings increases through the early morning hours and peak before sunrise, it might be a better idea to go to bed early and get up before dawn.

meteor showers RT

Meteor Showers RT via ProQuest eLibrary

Unfortunately, this is not expected to be a great year for the Leonids. The showers happen because Earth travels near trails left by Tempel-Tuttle, a comet that orbits the sun every 33 years. Bits of the comet are pulled by Earth’s gravity into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour, and the resulting friction causes them to burn as they fall. When our planet travels directly through one of these trails, we get what is known as a meteor storm or meteor outburst. Such storms usually occur in the years following Tempel-Tuttle’s pass, but they can occur in years in between. But, this is not one of those years, and the number of shooting stars is expected to be low. (Too bad it is not 1833 or 1996, years when the Leonid storms were especially spectacular, with thousands of meteors per hour.) In addition, the shower this year will be competing with a waning gibbous moon which will fill the sky with light for most of the night.

All that said, you might still want to give it a shot, especially if you have never seen a meteor. So, where should you look? Meteor showers are named after the place in the sky from which they appear to radiate, in this case, the constellation Leo. In reality, they can appear across the sky and go in many directions. So, the best strategy is just to lie back and take in as much of the sky as possible. Of course, to increase your odds, try to watch from a spot as far away from the glow of the city and other light sources as you can.

If you’d like to learn more about the stuff in the sky, check out the links in the text above, see the Research Topics pages below or do your own searches.

As they say in astronomy circles, clear skies to you!

Astronomy
Astrophysics
Constellations and Star Systems
Galaxies
Meteor Showers
Near-Earth Objects
Solar System
Stars
Telescope

This Day in History: November 8

So, you think November 8 is not so special? Check out these events that happened on this day in the last few hundred years. Follow the links to great resources in eLibrary:

 

-1745: Charles Edward Stuart invades England

Charles Edward Stuart RT

Charles Edward Stuart Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Catholic King James VII of Scotland (and II of England) had been removed in 1689 by the English Parliament in favor of the Protestant William of Orange, and over the decades there had been numerous attempts to bring James’ House of Stuart back into power. James’ grandson, Charles Edward Stuart, aka “The Pretender” and “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” led what became know as the Jacobite Rising of 1745. After having had success in raising an army and defeating government forces in a number of engagements in Scotland, an emboldened Charles crossed the border into England, where his forces besieged the city of Carlisle and marched unhindered into Manchester and Preston. Fearing defeat by several English armies, Charles’ advisers persuaded him not to attack Derby and to fall back into Scotland, where his rebellion was ended at the Battle of Culloden.

 

-1861: The Trent Affair occurs

Half a year into the Civil War, the USS San Jacinto intercepted a British ship and detained two Confederate diplomats on their way to Europe in an effort to gain diplomatic recognition from Britain and France. The British government protested, and for a couple of weeks there was the possibility of war with Britain. President Lincoln defused the situation by releasing the Confederates and issuing an apology.

 

-1923: The Beer Hall Putsch takes place in Munich, Germany

Beer Hall Putsch RT

Beer Hall Putsch Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Inspired by Benito Mussolini’s successful takeover of Italy, Adolf Hitler attempted a coup against the Weimar Republic government. He and and group of armed Nazi Party associates surrounded a beer hall at which Gustav von Kahr, who along with Colonel Hans Ritter von Seisser and Reichswehr General Otto von Lossow were running Bavaria under emergency powers, was speaking. After gaining support of the crowd with a rousing speech, Hitler eventually talked the three into supporting his plan. After fights and chaos across Munich through the night and the next day, the putsch failed and Hitler was tried and convicted of treason. However, the incident gave him national exposure, and while in prison, Hitler wrote his manifesto Mein Kampf.

 

-1960: John F. Kennedy wins the presidency over Richard Nixon

1960 Presidential Election RT

U.S. Presidential Election, 1960 Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

After having led an effective campaign over a more-experienced opponent, Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy, barely into only his second term as a senator, defeated Republican Richard Nixon. The campaign and election were notable for a number of reasons, including the occurrence of the first televised presidential debate (famous for Nixon’s paleness and sweating), the extremely tight race (Kennedy won the popular vote by only about 113,000 votes nationwide and won in the Electoral College 303 to 219) and the election of the first Roman Catholic president.

 

-1966: Edward Brooke becomes the first African-American elected to the Senate by popular vote since Reconstruction

Brooke, a centrist Republican, defeated former governor Endicott Peabody in a landslide despite the fact that there were very few black people in Massachusetts. Brooke was a champion of civil rights for blacks, but said he did not want to be seen as “a national leader for the Negro people.”

 

-2013: Typhoon Haiyan strikes the Philippines and other parts of southeast Asia

The massive storm achieved wind speeds of up to 195 miles per hour, making it the most powerful tropical storm to make landfall. The storm devastated the Philippines, killing around 6,300 people and leaving thousands without permanent housing two years after the storm.

National History Day 2017 in eLibrary

The 2017 National History Day theme, Taking a Stand in History, has been established, and eLibrary is ready to help students get a start on their research. We have created a jump page that features links to Research Topics related to many of the topics suggested on the National History Day website.

If you are not familiar with National History Day, it is a national program that provides a broad theme and challenges students to take a deep look at history and develop a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website. From NHD’s site:

…The intentional selection of the theme for NHD is to provide an opportunity for students to push past the antiquated view of history as mere facts and dates and drill down into historical content to develop perspective and understanding.

The NHD theme provides a focused way to increase students’ historical understanding by developing a lens to read history, an organizational structure that helps students place information in the correct context and finally, the ability to see connections over time.

Following local and state events showcasing the projects, the program culminates in a national contest featuring the top entries from around the world. This school year’s national contest will be held June 11-15, 2017.

Check out our ProQuest Research Topic Guide: National History Day.

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: National History Day

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: National History Day via eLibrary