Science, technology, and invention—all of us in the modern world live with their influence every day. Historians typically consider the advent of science and the consequent emphasis on technology and invention as the watershed into the modern world. Much of what we have come to find essential to ordinary life is a product of science, technology, and invention.
The authors of this volume treat but a few of the possible subjects in this influential heading of science, technology, and invention. The first article on the impact of John Deere's plow is a standard topic of Illinois history. Most often, Deere's work of inventing and perfecting the self-cleaning steel plow is emphasized, but the article by Hiram M. Drache goes beyond the initial invention to describe the economic impact of the Deere manufactory: consequences are as important as origins. The fine curriculum materials with this article encourage learning of much that is new and important about the results of John Deere's invention.
Manned flight in heavier-than-air machines is not an aspect of aviation commonly associated with Illinois. The second article describes Octave Chanute's contribution to aviation history when he lived in Chicago. Chanute gave considerable help to the men to whom we commonly attribute the birth of the airplane, the Wright brothers. Read here about that fascinating relationship, and use the curriculum materials to engage your students in the learning process.
The more ordinary topic of ground transportation in a big city—public transportation in Chicago in the early twentieth century—is the third article. How did public transportation evolve in the Windy City? What role did the following play: government, private citizens, and different technologies—especially the streetcar and the automobile. You and your students will learn a great deal from this stimulating article and accompanying curriculum materials.
Lastly the development of penicillin in Peoria during World War II is taken up in the fourth article. Penicillin has saved many lives since its first use in 1942 on a patient in Peoria. Read and learn about the development of a "wonder drug" that heralded a new age in the treatment of injury and disease.
Other aspects of science, technology, and invention in Illinois history could have been covered in this volume. The four in this volume, however, are important, and the curriculum materials are very effective. We hope you will enjoy using them, and we look forward to providing subsequent installments on the subject in later issues. All the best in your classes.