Ideas for the Classroom
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Women in trucking
Women have been a part of the trucking industry for more than a century. Luella Bates was an early female trucking pioneer. In fact, it’s believed that she was the first licensed female truck driver. She began testing trucks for the Four-Wheel Drive Auto Co. (FWD) in 1918 when many men left their jobs to fight in World War I. Lillie Drennan became the first woman to own her own trucking company – The Drennan Truck Line. She was a fierce advocate for gender and racial equality who personally hired and trained her diverse and exceptionally safe workforce. Bensie Ola “Rusty” Dow was the first woman to drive the Alaska Highway. She made the 1,560-mile trip in only seven days! Adrisue “Bitsy” Gomez formed the Coalition of Women Truck Drivers in 1976 to combat the negative stigma surrounding women in trucking. Through victories in the courts and successful public relations campaigns, Bitsy helped break down the barriers that had kept women from pursuing a career in trucking. Did you know only about 6% of truck drivers today are female? Trucking is still a male-dominated industry, but more women join the workforce each year. Organizations like the Women in Trucking Association focus on encouraging the employment of women in the trucking industry, promoting their accomplishments, and minimizing obstacles faced by women working in the 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.
- Trucks during World War I and World War II
During the two World Wars, many truck manufacturers like Mack, Studebaker, and Federal began producing trucks and other vehicles for the war effort. One Pierce-Arrow plant built 14,000 trucks for the French and British military during World War I. Autocar trucks were frequently used in World War II to carry mass quantities of supplies needed by troops. A few of the trucks in our collection actually played a role in the World Wars. Our 1942 Mack FJ was used as a dump truck by the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. The 1942 Peterbilt was used by Kaiser Industries, a company that built 747 Liberty Ships for World War II. Some of the trucks in our collection – such as the 1944 Mack EQT and the 1948 Mack LF – were built with little to no chrome because chrome was needed to build engines and other equipment for the military. Did you know 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? (Lean more about logos below!)
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.
- Fun facts
Ask student these fun fact questions.
- Trucking vocabulary
- Complete the activities in this activity pamphlet
- Work on these word searches and crossword puzzles
- 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
- Conduct some research on one of the following women who have had an impact on the trucking industry. Use the research to write a short paper.
- Luella Bates
- Lillie Elizabeth Drennan
- “Rusty” Dow
- Adrisue “Bitsy” Gomez
- Mazie Lanham
- Ellen Voie
- Andra Rush
- 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
- Giant Trucks (A True Book: Engineering Wonders) (2016) by Katie Marsico
- Truck and Trucking – Britannica Kids
- Truck Facts for Kids – Kiddle
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 one page 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?