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Chemistry and Forensic Science Timeline

posted on October 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Chemistry and Forensic Science Timeline

In the early 1900s, the average American's medicine cabinet was a would-be poisoner's treasure chest. Deadly chemicals such as radioactive radium, thallium, potassium cyanide, and morphine lurked in health tonics, depilatory creams, teething medicine, and cleaning supplies. As industrial innovation increased, the tools of the murderer's trade multiplied. However, the scientific knowledge to detect crime and the political will to prevent it lagged behind.

The use of poison as a murder weapon goes back thousands of years, and there was a time in America's recent past when many poisons were completely unregulated. Innovations in forensic toxicology has allowed investigators to determine causes of death that are often misdiagnosed and has become an essential tool in criminal investigations and court trials in the United States.

Teach your class about the historical events that aided our collective understanding of poison – and chemistry – as they browse milestones of forensic science in this timeline from PBS’s American Experience. The lesson plan includes teaching tips, a background essay and discussion questions. Learn More

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM Comments

Supernatural Elements in Shakespeare

posted on October 27, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Supernatural Elements in Shakespeare

‘Tis the season for witches, ghosts and magic! In Shakespeare’s time, many people believed in the existence of supernatural elements and witchcraft. The dominant fear of kings and queens in the 16th and 17th centuries was that the devil or antichrist, through the agency of the Pope, would topple the English monarchy.

In this PBS LearningMedia collection focusing on Macbeth, Hamlet and The Tempest, your students will examine supernatural beliefs during the 16th and 17th centuries, and identify how supernatural elements drive the plot of many of Shakespeare’s plays.

These segments from the PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered focus in particular on the witches from Macbeth, the relationship between the spirit and human worlds in Elizabethan England and how it’s reflected in Shakespeare’s work, how Prospero uses magic in The Tempest, a discussion on the study and practice of magic in the 17th century, and much more. 

Posted on October 27, 2014 at 12:23 PM Comments

The Creation, Destruction, and Legacy of Penn Station

posted on October 16, 2014 at 7:10 AM

The Creation, Destruction, and Legacy of Penn Station

The original Penn Station was considered an architectural jewel of the Big Apple in its heyday, but how did it get built? And why was it ultimately demolished?

“For most people, it wasn’t until that station was torn down that they understood what was taken from them,” said author Lorraine B. Diehl, who was interviewed for The Rise and Fall of Penn Station, the PBS American Experience documentary featured in this series of educational video segments that highlight innovation in the 21st century.

Use this media gallery to teach your class about the engineering challenges involved in bringing railroad service to Manhattan at the beginning of the 20th century. The project, which involved creating rail tunnels under two rivers as well as the construction of what was then the world’s largest steel arch bridge and fourth-largest building, took over a decade to complete and involved solving several engineering problems. While Penn Station was seen as a symbol of modern engineering, the decline of the railroads over the next half century led to the building’s demolition.

“Penn Station was really the great martyr of historic preservation – the building that died so that we might save others in the future. Penn Station was the tipping point, something that people simply wouldn’t accept anymore,” said architecture critic Paul Goldberger. 

Posted on October 16, 2014 at 7:10 AM Comments

New Tools for Students + Teachers

posted on September 30, 2014 at 9:09 AM

New Tools for Students + Teachers

You may have heard about our expanded digital resources! Today, PBS launches a NEW student experience at and new teacher tools at! Plus, PBS LearningMedia now offers over 87,000 digital resources, including more than 700 Spanish language videos!

Students will love the new website, where you can send your kids to interact with media, engage with resources and complete assignments. The PBS LearningMedia online student experience allows students of any age or grade level to browse and search educational and inspiring resources for not only homework but also lifelong personal learning.

To help you work better and more effectively, PBS LearningMedia now features even more productivity tools, including a lesson builder, quiz maker and storyboard tools. These features will make it easier for you to implement personalized learning objectives for individual students by giving them media and quizzes that are appropriate for their grade or skill level.  Take some time today to get acquainted with and what’s new at!

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 9:09 AM

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