by Lacy Compton
During my undergrad years at Baylor, there was a legendary introductory physics class lovingly nicknamed Packard Physics for the elderly, dynamic professor, Robert Packard, who taught the course (and did so for 50 years until his retirement in 2002). One of the highlights of the course each semester was Dr. Packard's detailed analysis of the physics behind JFK's assassination. He carefully, enthusiastically taught his students (most of us nonscience majors) about bullet trajectories, angles, car speed--how all of it affected the events that day. It's a lesson that has stuck with me many years later, despite not being anywhere near old enough to have experienced the famous day's events for myself.
Like Dr. Packard's lesson, teachers can help their students live in the moment of this event that changed the course of American politics and society with a variety of teaching tools on the topic, including these:
- The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives: This database allows you to search for digitized images of artifacts from the assassination such as bullet fragments and the windshield of the President's car.
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: The Presidential Library site not only includes basic information about JFK's life, but also a media kit about the assassination that includes photos, videos, documents, oral histories, and audio recordings from that day.
- The Kennedy Assassination, 50 Years Later: This collection of stories from NPR will allow teachers to pick and choose from a variety of retrospective stories and historical recordings.
- Remembering John F. Kennedy, 50 years after assassination: PBS NewsHour's guide to the events and news programs on the topic is useful for teachers wanting to arrange for students to view memorial activities this week.
And, being in Texas, I would be remiss if I didn't mention two fantastic museums with exhibits related to the assassination: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (the infamous former Texas School Book Depository) and the LBJ Presidential Library, which includes information on how the assassination changed politics (and LBJ's career).