- Students will enhance their knowledge of 19th century farming practices
and associated environmental problems.
- Students will describe how the technologies that developed during
and following the pioneer period of Iowa history as a result of the
Industrial Revolution (1750-1850) influenced.
- Students will develop skills in using visual materials, particularly
historical photographs and sketches, as sources of information.
Students will examine an original
engraving of the Grasshopper Catcher, circa 1870. This unique piece
of equipment was designed to assist the 19th century farmer fighting grasshopper
plagues. Clues to the interpretation
of this photograph will lead students to develop hypotheses regarding
the function of this unique piece of equipment. Created to remedy the
destructive results of grasshopper infestation, this device was but one
of many developed during the latter part of the 19th century.
Early settlers of Iowa, faced with frequent (in some places annual) infestations
combated the insects with whatever tools and techniques proved effective.
These remedies included the grasshopper catcher pictured in this activity.
Other attempts to neutralize the negative effects of the insect plague
included the 'hopper dozers' and locust crushers that smashed the insects.
Early season fires sometimes destroyed the larvae. Some farmers tried
dragging long ropes across the fields to disrupt the insects, and other
farmers simply turned to raising stock as opposed to raising grain crops.
It was reported that grasshoppers and locusts plagued the state, especially
the northwestern quarter, nearly every year between 1868 and 1880. These
plagues caused some farmers to abandon their homesteads especially after
two very difficult years, 1873-1874. Despite these problems, this kind
of adversity also inspired the creative genius and tenacity that characterized
the people of the frontier. The grasshopper catcher is but one example.
information may be found at Briggs, John E. The Grasshopper Plagues
in Iowa, The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. 13,
(1915), pp. 349-391.
Invention Convention Activity
Who Was Rube Goldberg?
(1883-1970), was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author.
Rueben Lucius Goldberg (Rube Goldberg) was born in San Francisco. His
father insisted he go to college to become an engineer, but his real love
was drawing and particularly drawing cartoons. Rube made a name for himself
after moving to New York City where he drew daily cartoons for the Evening
Rube's trademark was discovering hard ways to achieve easy results. His
as he said, symbols of man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish
minimal results. Rube believed that there were two ways to do things,
the simple and the hard way, and that a surprisingly number of people
preferred doing things the hard way.
Today, the name Rube Goldberg
has come into common use as a general descriptor for any over-complicated
mechanical device or invention.
In the Invention Convention activity students will evaluate the extent
to which the Grasshopper Catcher might be considered a "Rube Goldberg."
This exploration will serve as a starting point to explore the world of
Tips For Teachers
Tips on what to look for when examining a photograph.
Do You See Activities
Primary Sources in the Classroom - Images
Photo used by permission from the State Historical Society