The evolution of early 20th century automobiles and their impact on industrial development were on full display Thursday at Bradley Elementary School.
Fifth-graders at the Richland 1 school received a special visit from members of the Columbia Chapter of the Model A Ford Club of America, who brought along two classic cars from the 1930s Henry Ford era as part of a living history lesson.
The visit came as the students are studying the Industrial Revolution and the legacy of Henry Ford, who is credited with producing the first automobile in the economic reach of the average American.
As part of their study, students have explored mass production, assembly lines and the cost of the early automobiles. Bradley social studies teacher Racquel Dobbs said the goal is to give students a greater appreciation for inventions and history.
“I want them to know that they can impact the world like Henry Ford did,” Dobbs said.
Car club members Wes Porterfield and John Cockerill pointed out several differences between the early-model vehicles and most of today’s automobiles before giving students a tour of the cars. Among those differences are 10-gallon tanks, no power steering, radio, air conditioning or heat and a 40-45 mph speed limit.
“You can’t get any more real than this,” Bradley Elementary media specialist Elizabeth Russell said as the students examined the cars.
For the students, the up-close inspections were equally fascinating.
“I have never seen a car that has a gas tank on the top. I usually see them on the side,” said Tracy Cunningham.
“I thought these cars would be a little smaller,” said Amaya Rowe.
Marton Burton said the experience gave him a much better idea of what automobiles looked like “back then.”
Dobbs said the visuals should help cement the in-class lessons. “They will make a connection because they actually saw it.”