Keepers of the Light: A Unit Study on Lighthouses
- Monday, July 19, 2010
"We need to start sounding the foghorn," Mark instructed his son.
"I'll do it, Father, while you keep the lamp burning," Andrew said as he shrugged into his rain slicker.
Andrew scurried down the 180 steps. He did not take time to count them as usual. He knew that timeliness was crucial when weather like this persisted. He hurried into the shed where the foghorn was housed. He began to crank the handle to sound it when he glanced up and saw his sister approaching.
"ANDREW!" Abigail screamed.
"I'm right here!" he called.
She arrived breathless and soaking wet. Her chest heaved as she tried to catch a breath. "There's a ship that has run aground on the rocks. We need to get the boat and Papa and hurry!"
Minutes later the three jumped into the boat and pushed off from shore. Abigail held the lantern while her father and brother hurriedly rowed to where she had seen the ship. The rocks and rough seas were swiftly demolishing the vessel. She listened carefully as her eyes intently searched the wreckage, looking for survivors.
"Over there," Abigail pointed.
Her father grunted as he and Mark struggled to pull the young man into their boat. The waves threatened to capsize them. Thunder crashed as lightning illuminated the rolling sea.
"There's another one!" Abigail said.
Their eyes scanned the choppy water, looking for signs of life. Lightning continued to flash, revealing debris but nothing more.
They were all soaked and exhausted by the time they returned to the lighthouse. Despite Mark's weariness, he headed up the stairs to check on the lamp. It was crucial to keep the light burning brightly so that further catastrophes could be avoided.
The history of lighthouses is exciting to study. The very first was the Lighthouse of Alexandria, completed in 283 BC. It was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Lighthouse keepers thought of their position as a calling instead of a job, taking great pride in their work. Most keepers lived on remote islands, with very little interaction with other people. It was not a job for the fainthearted, requiring discipline, precision, and repetition. Keepers had to be prepared for adverse weather conditions, and at times, sea rescues. Let's set sail on a journey to learn about lighthouses in history.
Lighthouse, Fresnel lens, kerosene, fog signal, Alexandria, daymarks, prisms, shipwreck, lifesaving, lantern.
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
"No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light." Luke 8:16
Lighthouse keepers kept a daily logbook. Some used the log to record nature they observed; others included short stories they had written. Create your own lighthouse keeper diary over the next month.
In 1876, Traveling Library Boxes were sent among lighthouse keepers in America. They contained various reading materials passed among workers and their families. Each box was numbered. Work with another family to organize your own boxes, and then exchange them.
Augustine-Jean Fresnel was the French creator of the Fresnel lens. His invention was crucial to lighthouse history. Find out as much as you can about this man and his lens, and report your findings to your family.
Pretend you and your family are lighthouse keepers, living on a remote island. Write a story about your experiences.
Research how the Fresnel lens worked. Draw a picture of it and label the components.
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