Sunday, July 10

Invention of Hugo Cabret & Clockmaking

A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery...

Clockmakers were artisans and master craftsmen who designed and built clocks by hand.  They designed the clocks, the components that made them work, and often the tools to create or repair their pieces.  They have to have fine motor coordination and the ability to work with tiny, delicate machinery.  Today most clocks are factory-made, but there are still clockmakers who work in jewelry stores and antique shops repairing old clocks and watches.

Timekeeping devices date back to ancient civilizations, who used the stars and astronomical bodies moving across the sky to track time.  Sundials and water clocks were used by the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Chinese.  During the Dark and early Middle Ages, Islamic water clocks, Indian incense clocks, and European hourglasses were invented.  Later in the Middle Ages, some of these techniques were combined to create a mechanical clock.  This invention was based on the bell-striking alarm used in monasteries.

After the invention of the mainspring, it was possible to being create smaller clocks, such as those designed by two of the most famous scientists – Leonardo DaVinci and Galileo Galilei.  They each used the concept of the pendulum, working with different lengths to produce a desired timekeeper.  In 1656, Dutch designer Christian Huygens built upon their designs to create a clock more accurate than any before.

It was a naval disaster in 1707 that changed the future of timekeeping devices.  The Scilly Naval Disaster was one of the worst maritime disasters in British history.  Around 1700 sailors lost their lives to a wreck in severe weather.  The disaster was attributed to several factors, including the navigators inability to correctly calculate their position.  Following this disaster, governments offered a prize to anyone who could discover a way to determine longitude.  The electric clock, invented in 1840, became the new standard.

During the Boer War (1899-1902), the wristwatch became the symbol of masculinity.  Then in the 1940s, quartz timers became the basis for precise measurement of time.  During the 20th century, battery-driven watches, quartz wristwatches, transistors, and precise plastic parts were all invented, bringing accurate timekeeping to the masses.  Today, the most accurate clocks are atomic clocks, which can be accurate to within a few billionths of a second per year.  These are the clocks used to calibrate all other clocks and timekeeping devices.

Our spine read for this unit is The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick)

Access the full unit with the Literature-Based Science Bundle!

Includes nine unit studies covering a variety of science topics presented in literature selections.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Units include:
  • Misty of Chincoteague & Horses
  • Hugo Cabret & Clocks / Time
  • Caroline’s Comet & Astronomy
  • Fuzzy Mud & Microbiology
  • Hatchet & Outdoor Skills
  • Airplanes & Flight
  • Marine Biology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Plant Dissection

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