Ben Franklin: His influence
on the United States
political system and
Scott Carpenter Middle School
Scott Carpenter Middle School
After analyzing the documents at the beginning of this lesson, and the documents /
information presented in web sites, you will write an essay answering the following
What was Benjamin Franklin’s greatest contribution to the American
political system? Be sure to compare you answer against other possible
contributions Franklin made.
Students will begin by studying documents containing some of Franklin’s most famous
inventions/experiments as a way to discuss what students know about Franklin as a
scientist. Following this, students will research his many scientific endeavors to develop
a better understanding of the purpose of the scientific method. Students will use this
understanding in their own scientific investigation in the required Science Fair Project.
1. In small groups, analyze the following documents given using “Thinking about
Primary Sources…” analysis tool
(http://aamcolorado.mscd.edu/graphic_organizer.pdf). What do all the
documents have in common? Discuss what we collectively know about Benjamin
Join or Die poster
Plan of Confederation 1775 document
Franklin’s Reception at the Court of France 1778 painting
Address to the Public from the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition
of Slavery, and the Relief of Free Negroes…… document
2. As a class, read the introduction of the on-line exhibition of Benjamin
Franklin…In his own words (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/franklin-
home.html). Create a list of all the varied ways Benjamin Franklin was involved
in shaping America (ex: statesman, diplomat, author, scientist, congressman, etc.).
Define/discuss the terms identified. Categorize the terms. Which category of
terms, previously discussed is going to enable you to answer the essay question?
3. Following this introduction, students will complete the activities provided by the
by the teacher when viewing the following web sites:
4. Teacher will assign one way Franklin was involved in shaping the American
political system to each small group. In these groups, students will prepare a list
of reasons / arguments why Franklin made the greatest contributions to the
American political system and present (both oral and written format) to class.
5. Students will use the information gathered in research and presentations as a basis
for their essay.
1. In small groups, analyze the following documents given using the “Thinking
about Primary Sources…” analysis tool
(http://aamcolorado.mscd.edu/graphic_organizer.pdf). Discuss what we
collectively know about Benjamin Franklin as a scientist.
An Account of the New Invented Pennsylvania Fire-Places (aka Franklin Stove)
Benjamin to George Whately (ca. 1709-1791), May 23, 1785 (Bifocals)
Maritime Observation and A Chart of the Gulph Stream”
L’Armonica: Lettera del Signor Benjamino Franklin al Padre Biambatiista
Beccaria,Regio Professore di Fishica nell’ Univ. di Torino
2. Using the activity sheet, working in pairs, students will create a list of as many
inventions and scientific experiments as they can find in web sites, including the
3. Back in the classroom, students create a master list of list of all inventions and
scientific experiments found in their research.
4. Working in small groups, students use the master list to categorize inventions and
experiments. Findings are posted in the classroom.
5. What questions do you think Franklin had about each category that led to his
scientific investigation? For each category, groups will write two scientific
questions that Franklin may have considered. Findings are presented and posted
in the classroom
6. As a class, then discuss the process Franklin used in his inventions and
experiments. Why is the scientific method important?
7. Students will write a short paragraph explaining how using the scientific method
will help them in their Science Fair Project.
You will be evaluated on the completion of your activity sheets as well as your
culminating project – the assigned essay. The essay will be graded according to the 6-
Trait Grading Rubric. (see attachments)
Proficient responses would include references to all of the following:
being able to see different approaches for experimentation using the scientific
revision of experiment or invention to get desired results
specific references to strengths of the scientific method
Upon completion of the project, you will have analyzed documents from the Library of
Congress and other web sites.
Using what you have learned, and from your own background knowledge, place yourself
in Franklin’s shoes. Looking at the various ways Franklin contributed to the American
political system, do you think he realized the lasting impact his work would have?
Upon completion of the task, you will have analyzed documents from the Library of
Congress and other web sites, and researched Benjamin Franklin, the scientist.
Using what you have learned, and from your own background knowledge about
Benjamin Franklin, the scientist, why is revision a key element in all scientific
investigations and inventions? What examples of this can you find in your daily life?
Primary Source Materials:
Please see attached bibliography.
Template created 2004 by An Adventure of the American Mind – Colorado.