Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mr. Kaiser Had a Relative on the Titanic!

Team 6-1 was treated today to a visit from the famous Mr. Kaiser.  It turns out, he had a relative on the Titanic -- what a powerful real-world connection to our whole class novel, Deborah Hopkinson's Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.

Before Mr. Kaiser spoke, we reviewed with each other and for Mr. Kaiser what we KNOW about the Titanic as well as what we wonder, based on what we've read so far.  (We just finished Chapter 5 yesterday, which is when the crew is realizing just how bad the accident was)  This whole-team review was a great opportunity for us to share and build off of each other's knowledge, since we aren't all in Language Arts class together!

Here’s my KNOW/WONDER chart from Mr. Kaiser’s presentation.  The KNOWs are all new pieces of knowledge I now have, thanks to Mr. Kaiser.
Titanic was trying to set a speed record, so it was going at unsafe speedsAre speed records still kept, or is that considered too unsafe? What is the current record?
The rivets on the ship weren’t welded as well as they should be.Who made the decision to use lower quality materials? How much money did it actually even save?
Mr. Kaiser had a great-great uncle on the Titanic.  The uncle -- Mr. William F. Hoyt -- was a first class passenger and a businessman traveling to  New York to familyHow did Mr. Kaiser originally uncover this relative and find that the relative had an interesting story?
Mr. Hoyt’s brother had to travel to New York to find out if Mr. Hoyt survived; information traveled much slower back then than it does now. How did the brother finally find out what happened to Mr. Hoyt? Did a Titanic officer tell him?
Mr. Hoyt survived the sinking, but he was so large that people couldn’t get him into Lifeboat 14, so he either died of hypothermia or internal injuries (he had blood coming out of his nose and mouth).How cold was the water? How fast does hypothermia happen? Was his body recovered?
Mr. Hoyt’s body was recovered but it was buried at sea, so his family never got the body.Did they still have a memorial site for Mr. Hoyt?

Linked here is interesting article I found about the faulty rivets -- Mr. Kaiser made me curious about the topic, so I just had to look it up.

Other things Mr. Kaiser made me think about:

  • My comparison of the messaging service to text messaging wasn't totally correct.  The ships messengers had to have an extra step: decoding the transmissions first!
  • Before the days of websites like, Mr. Kaiser spent months tracking down information about his family.  I think I sometimes need to be more patient with my own research process! 
  • A student brought up the possibility that some workers had died during the construction of the ship, and Mr. Kaiser pointed out that accidents did happen on major building projects throughout history.  I wonder how safety requirements for construction have happened over time.
  • Mr. Kaiser reminded me about the importance of primary sources.  He found a lot of his information through reports taken directly from Titanic officers!

QUESTION: One lingering question many of us have: would the Titanic have been better off hitting the iceberg head on?  Can anyone find a source addressing this question?

Thank you, Mr. Kaiser, for spending your afternoon with us!   You've really enriched our thinking!


  1. Mrs. Taylor,
    I enjoyed reading your wonders. Many of the wonders I shared as well. I would love to examine the impact of a head on collision with an iceberg. We have already studied car collisions so this could be our next "titanic" leap into physics. I will send you some video to post. What a great day for learning. Thank you Mr. Kaiser!

  2. So eloquently stated, Mrs. Taylor! I enjoy that Ms Siegfried, our awesome Science teacher, was wondering about some of the "sciency" things, while I was fascinated by all the technology. How lucky our students to have a resource like the Internet to assist in finding distant relatives. I am sure that Mr. Kaiser became very good at doing research, a skill I hope all of you develop. Mr. Kaiser mentioned microfilm. Do you know what microfilm is? I will give out starbucks to those of you who can explain it to the class! It amazes me how far technology has come and I am curious as to what the newest most innovative pieces of technology had been available on the Titanic and how did that piece of technology evolve into something we might use today. Special Thanks to Mr. Kaiser for joining us today

    1. He also mentioned microfiche...I would love for all of our students to see what research used to look like in the days before the internet. For us, the majority of the search was the quest was to seek out and find the information - now students can easily access information but they have to spend time sorting it out and determining its relevance and validity.

    2. Ahh! I remember microfilm, microfiche, and CARD CATALOGS, Mrs. Doyle and Ms. Siegfried!

      The cool thing about research today is that so many more people can publish their research and information -- they don't have to go through regular publishers and get put into a library. Reporters of information DO need to establish their credibility, so people believe they can trust the research, but if researchers establish their credibility well, then they have so many more opportunities to share their information with the world!

      The downside is that there's a ton of junk for us to sort through, but I'm confident that our students are developing the research skills to do this.

  3. Joseph

    I personally think it would've been better to turn and slow it down as quickly and as much as possible. All of the two sources that I found (there are many others) mentioning this topic were mostly opinions or hypotheses based on their knowledge. I wonder if it is possible to test the Titanic disaster? If so, what would you need to do in order for the test to be accurate? would you need exact speed, temperature, size, iceberg size, material, weather, weight, etc.


    1. This is a very thoughtful post, Joseph! I was interested in how you noted that most sources you found were opinions or hypotheses -- how could you tell?

      I like how you then listed some pieces of information you'd like to have in order to believe that a source has an accurate test.

  4. If the Titanic hit the iceberg head on in my perspective I think it would have done more of a disaster because, the source I used said " it would of sunk more rapidly if it hit head on , in a matter of minutes not hours ". The Titanic had been built with raised collision bulkheads in the bow -it was said , the flooding she (Titanic) was in would had resulted from an impact that would have been sever or extensive . That site had some hypothesis and some true facts .

    Resources :


    1. Andrea, you did a great job quoting your source directly! Could you tell if the source was a reliable/believable one?

      I'm impressed with how all of you are using your science terms like "hypothesis" to support your thinking!

  5. i think the titanic would be better off the way it happened, because head on collision would make the ship sink faster. to find out, we could compare, the way the titanic hit ice to another ship hitting the ice.

    Ameesha Narang
    per. 8/9

  6. That would be an interesting experiment, Ameesha! I wonder if you could conduct experiment totally through computers (like, using a program to simulate different ways of crashing) instead of having to do it with little models of ships... or I wonder if you could compare different stories from crashes to try to figure this out.

  7. I went to and it said that the damage would have been greater if the titanic had hit the iceberg head on. it says the weight of the ship hitting the huge iceberg so fast would have still caused tons of kinetic energy. It says that the ship would have had minutes not hours until it sunk.

    Elsa Jacob
    Period 8/9

  8. i think they should have slowed down when they saw the iceberg instead of heading at it full speed and waiting until the last second to do something. as for hitting 'head on' i think that would make the damage worse and they would have sunk faster.


    1. I agree, Kara! I wonder how much time they would have needed to slow down and avoid the iceberg, period. It's surprising to me that none of the other ships in the area that night had problems with icebergs!

      PS. Don't forget to capitalize, since you're writing for an academic site :)

  9. Correction:

    I think they should have slowed down when they saw the iceberg instead of heading at it full speed and waiting until the last second to do something. As for hitting 'head on' I think that would make the damage worse and they would have sunk faster.

  10. I think they should not have hit the iceberg head on because it probably would have made the titanic damaged even more and make the rooms fill with water quicker. They also should have stayed on the original route instead of turning when hearing of icebergs in path ahead. They could have had a safer route and more chances for reaching New York to get repaired. ~Lynn period 8/9~