Last week, our history class was lucky enough to talk to historians at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, England over a Google Hangout! Before we did this, we prepared for the Google Hangout in several ways by investigating the MOSI website and learning about some of the machines we expected to see, watching a video sent to us from the person showing us around the museum that introduced to us some more machines used during the Industrial Revolution, and drafting questions that we could potentially ask during the live chat.
After the live chat, I learned that the textile process was a much harder and dangerous job than I had anticipated. There are so many things that could go wrong in simply using a machine that could result in amputation, death, or, in one case, being cut in half at the waist. One of the most frequent health issues was inhaling dust and fibers from the various machines in the factory and therefore have health issues in the future. I also learned about the ways the industrialization of textile production impacted families. A lot of the time, families did not know what they were sending their children to do when they sent them to factories. The factories were portrayed in a much more humane and "home away from home" type of way than they really were. When families did eventually know what the factories were like, they avoided them at all costs. However, when poverty got the better of many families, they were desperate enough to send their children to work kin the factories for the money.
Overall, I gained a much better insight into factory working during the Industrial Revolution when talking to an outside expert because I was shown what each machine actually looked like and how they worked. My only negative thought on this experience is for the lag during the live chat. I would definitely be interested in doing this again!
Here is a screenshot of a video my teacher put together of the live chat (I didn't have any good pictures to put up). If you can't see what's on the SMART board, it is a piece of art depicting a room in a factory during the Industrial Revolution.