Ideas for the Classroom
Goods are things that can be bought and sold. What kinds of goods do semi-trucks haul? (Toys, machines, computers, books, food, cars, mattresses, crayons, clothing, desks, paper, etc.) Explain to students that everything they buy has traveled on a semi-truck to the store. Some items come all the way across the country on a semi-truck. Other items might travel part of the way by boat or train, but the semi-truck must pick up the items from the port or train station to carry it the rest of the way to the store.
- The importance of the trucking industry
Trucking is important because the boats and trains can only get goods to the station/dock and they need another mode of transportation to get them to the stores where they are going to be sold. Before trucks, goods had to be moved by wagons pulled by horses or other animals. Trucking has made it faster, easier, and more efficient to get goods to the stores.
- The many purposes of trucks
Trucks are used for many purposes. Some carry goods – or things that can be bought and sold – all across the country! Other trucks are used by community helpers like police officers, firefighters, and trash collectors to help them do their job. There are trucks that help people move from one house to another. Some trucks even pull houses themselves! People can use trucks to do special purposes like mix cement, dig holes, and tow vehicles that have broken down. Can you think of any other purposes trucks have? Use this presentation or watch the video below to learn about some of the many purposes the trucks in our collection have fulfilled.
Interstates play a very important role in the trucking industry. President Eisenhower’s Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 led to the interstate system as we know it today. Check out this presentation or watch the video below to learn more about the importance of interstates, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, interchanges, I-80, and more!
- The rise of gas-powered trucks
Several factors influenced the rise in popularity of the gas-powered vehicle over the electric vehicle. The electric truck took longer to charge than it took to fill up a gas tank. Gas-powered vehicles could also travel longer distances on a tank of gas than the electric truck could on a charge. Also, gasoline was portable, but the availability of electricity was not widespread until President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act in 1935, bringing electricity to rural areas of the country. Without electricity being conveniently available, people weren’t able to recharge electric vehicles at home. The use of electric vehicles is becoming popular again because of our desire to explore the use of other environmentally friendly energy sources.
- If trucks couldn’t cross state lines
If trucks couldn’t cross states lines, it would be very difficult for people of different states to enjoy many products. For instance, only coastal states or states that border Canada or Mexico could receive international exports. Landlocked states like Iowa would not be able to have any seafood. Iowa is a major producer of corn and soybeans, but some other states do not grow these crops in large enough quantities to provide enough to meet demand. Likewise, Florida is known for its production of oranges, but Iowa is not a producer of oranges. If trucks couldn’t cross state lines, Iowans would have to travel to different states to enjoy an orange!
A logo is a graphic representation of a name, symbol, or trademark created to make a product easily recognizable. Ask students to name some popular logos (Answers may include Wendy’s, Nike, John Deere, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway, Nintendo, Xbox, etc.). If you visit the museum, point out some of the truck logos like Mack and Diamond T. Otherwise you can pull up images online. The Mack bulldog logo came from soldiers in World War I who thought the 1916 AC Mack truck looked like the English Bulldog’s flat nose and face. The Diamond T logo got its name from “diamond” meaning quality and the “T” stood for Tilt, the last name of the founder of the company.
- Refrigeration in trucks
Today we use refrigerated trucks to haul items that need to stay cold. But before refrigeration, blocks of dry ice were placed in the trailer. Some trailers had fans inside that would blow across the dry ice and circulate cool air. One example of a truck in our collection that needed to keep cargo cool but didn’t have the luxury of refrigeration is the 1911 Walker Electric truck. It was used by Bowman Dairy to haul milk to hospitals and restaurants. You can learn more about it here.
- Types of jobs in the trucking industry
There are many different jobs a trucker can have. Some truckers haul dry vans. Others pull tankers or refrigerated freight trailers. Truck drivers might travel long distances. They may drive for days before reaching their destination. Others stick to one area and make multiple deliveries a day. Full Truckload drivers carry goods from a single company while Less Than Truckload drivers carry goods from multiple companies at the same time! Use this presentation or watch the video below to explain the different types of jobs in the trucking industry.
- Self-service vs full-service gas stations
Self-service is serving oneself so this means that you would fill up your own gas tank, like you’ve probably seen an adult do. At a full-service station, someone who works at the gas station pumps the gas for you. In New Jersey and parts of Oregon, it’s illegal to pump your own gas. They are the last two full-service states in our country.
- Fun facts
Ask student these fun fact questions.
- Trucking vocabulary
Share this list of trucking terms with the class. You can use this word search and crossword puzzle, which contain the terms from this list.
- Complete the activities in this activity pamphlet
- Work on these word searches and crossword puzzles
- Make No Bake Semi Cookies
- Color a picture of one of the trucks from our collection
- Explore this map to learn about different cities to which trucks in the collection have a connection
- Ask students to design their own logo and explain why they chose the design
- Try your hand at these math problems*
*These worksheets are based on Iowa Core Standards. Click here to see the standards that correspond to each worksheet.
- Keep America Rollin’
- Click here for a question guide students can fill out as they watch
- Truck Transportation & the World Economy: What If Trucks Stopped?
- Wheels of Progress
- They Drive the Long Haul Part 1 & Part 2
- A Big Assist: Tripp Wheeler Adventures (2020) by Linda Hagopian, Debbie Ruane Sparks, and Kenny Kiernan
- Big Joe’s Trailer Truck (1974) by Joe Mathieu
- Giant Trucks (A True Book: Engineering Wonders) (2016) by Katie Marsico
- The Red, White and Blue Party: Tripp Wheeler Adventures (2019) by Linda Hagopian, Debbie Ruane Sparks, and Kenny Kiernan
- With Any Luck, I’ll Drive a Truck (2016) by David Friend and Michael Rex
*If you can’t obtain a physical copy, you can find and watch a video of the book being read on YouTube.
Ideas for Your Visit
- See if you can find all of the trucks in this scavenger hunt.
- Trucks from the early 1900s to trucks today
Look through the large window in the lobby to see some modern trucks passing through. Talk about some of the differences between trucks today and trucks from the past century. You can pick out a specific truck in our collection to make the comparison if you’d like. (Speed, design, size, modern comforts)
- Antique and modern gas pumps
We have several antique gas pumps in our lobby. You can see that many of them have glass tops, use a hand-crank, are different colors, and may only have one nozzle.
The trucks in our collection have a variety of wheels. Take for instance the 1910 Avery. Instead of tires, it has removable wood plugs. Both our 1913 VIM and 1918 VIM have completely white tires. The 1919 International Harvester has white-wall tires. Several trucks in the collection have solid rubber tires. Our 1903 Eldridge and 1921 International Harvester have wood spokes while many others in the collection have metal ones. The 1930 Ford Model A Snowmobile has cogged tires on the back.
- 1916 Mack AC, 1936 Mack BM, 1955 Mack LTL, and 1964 Mack B-873SX
The truck brand with the most examples on display in the museum is Mack. There are trucks from many different years throughout the century. Compare two or more of the trucks listed above or chose two other trucks of the same brand that are currently on display.
- 1927 Fisher Jr. Express and the 1954 Fageol Van
These are two examples of moving trucks from different decades. Talk about the differences in design, size, etc.
- Ask students to write a letter to a family member explaining what they learned during their visit to the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum. Mail the letters.
- Have students write two or three paragraphs using the following prompts:
- Imagine you are a truck driver. If you could haul anything, what would it be? Why? Where would you most like to travel? What would you most like to see?
- What was your favorite truck in the museum? Why?
- Why is trucking important?