Virtual Field Trip: Mount Washington, Up, Up, and Away!
The highest peak in the northeastern United States, Mount Washington has been a source of fascination for centuries. People have been climbing it since at least 1642, and it has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most deadly mountains in the country. Reaching the summit has always been a challenge, but in the last 200 years, new ways have been devised to get to the top.
This virtual field trip visits several locations in the Mount Washington area, including the Mt. Washington Auto Road and the Cog Railway.
A graphic organizer helps students record what they learn from the video, which, when combined with the activity, tackles the question: What's the best way to get to the top of Mount Washington?
The video is 32 minutes.
Before You Take Your Virtual Field Trip . . .
Connect to the place
Locate Mount Washington on a state map. Then, help students determine where they are on the map. How close or far away from the mountain do they live? Ask students what they already know about Mount Washington and the White Mountain Region.
Discuss the big question
What’s the best way to get up Mount Washington? Encourage students to think carefully about this question with discussion prompts: If you have climbed a mountain, how did you do it? Why would people want to go up Mount Washington? Which ways do you think people use to go up it?
During Your Virtual Field Trip . . .
Organize facts and ideas
An optional graphic organizer is provided to help students identify and expand upon the three key ideas addressed during the trip. As they listen and watch, students can check off the key idea as they hear it mentioned. The chart below provides space for students to note supporting facts that relate to each idea. This graphic organizer could be used as part of a preview to the trip. It also works well as a review exercise after the trip and can be completed as a whole group or independently.
This graphic organizer helps students organize the information they learn in the virtual field trip.
Climb the Tallest Mountain in the Northeast
New Hampshire’s Mount Washington is an amazing place. It’s the tallest mountain in the eastern United States, and it’s the home of the worst weather in the world! Let’s visit Mount Washington to take a look at its history and explore it by foot, by car, and by train, and answer our big question: what is the best way to get up Mount Washington?
After Your Virtual Field Trip . . .
Transport pros and cons shuffle
Provide students with the “What’s the Best Way to Get Up Mount Washington” sheet. Ask them to think about the three main ways people get to the top of the mountain and to list pros and cons for each. Then, ask students to cut out the chart sections they completed, shuffle them, and swap with a classmate. Can they sort the other student’s ideas correctly under the transport categories? Then, tally the responses from the whole group and transform that data into a bar graph, pie chart, or other visual display. How does the data express the group’s answer to the big question?
What's the best way to get to the top of Mount Washington?
Want To Do More?
Go further with these extension activities
One place, two forecasts. Assign students to record the daily temperature, wind speed, and precipitation recorded at the summit of Mount Washington (available at mountwashington.org) and compare it to the weather conditions at the base of the Auto Road (available at mt-washington.com/status-weather). What differences can students calculate between the data points? Repeat this comparison for a week or for a few days each month. What do those differences tell us about when it’s best to go up the mountain? When might some modes of transportation be better or safer than others?
Choose your own Mount Washington adventure. In the spirit of the classic book series “Choose Your Own Adventure,” use the transport pros and cons generated by students to create a “possibility tree” for a trip up the mountain. At the bottom of a page, write the three modes of transport. Above each mode, write two possible things that could happen during the first few minutes of the trip. Then branch off each of those six options with two more. Continue working up the page until students have at least three layers of branches. Ask students to add more branches and imagine more possible scenarios depending on selections made. Students can use these possibility trees to write short fiction pieces.
For more details on Mount Washington, along with primary sources and a short introductory video about the mountain, look at the Mount Washington Primary Source Set.
The New Hampshire Historical Society thanks the following organizations for assisting in the making of this virtual field trip:
Mt. Washington Auto Road
The Mount Washington Cog Railway
New Hampshire State Parks