On this day, November 10th, in 1975, the freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald (a taconite carrier) sank during a storm on Lake Superior. All of the crew, 29 nine men, perished. The event was memorialized in the lyrics of singer Gordon Lightfoot‘s popular ballad, the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Though sad, this historical event presents an engrossing opportunity for students and teachers to collaborate and engage in interdisciplinary research. It’s a perfect storm of learning. Delving into what lead up to the tragedy allows pupils to explore elements of:
- history/case studies/critical reading of reports–pupils can pore over the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Report on the event
- geography–Lake Superior via Google Earth, geography of the Great Lakes, the site of the loss (46°59.9N 85°06.6W /46.9983°N 85.11°W/ 46.9983; -85.11),
- science–topics such as weather conditions that lead to the sinking, the Great Lakes Ecosystem, What Floats Your Boat via ScienceNetlinks,
- mathematics–boat capacity math, ship building and math (via Michael of Rhodes),
- language arts
- and music.
Diving into this and other historical events, using them as case-study investigations into why and how things happen, makes learning more rewarding and allows students to integrate technology resources in a more meaningful manner.
- For a more informed reading the lyrics of of Gordon Lightfoot’s popular song, the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, take a look at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wx Wise data-rich page devoted to the freighter’s sinking.
- The Great Lakes are well-known for some treacherous weather. The University of Wisconsin‘s very useful Coastal Natural Hazards page has intriguing descriptions of seiches and storm surges.
- Wikipedia’s very thorough entry on seiches has an animated explanation of the causes and nature of seiches.