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Education - Seattle World's Fair Curriculum


Imagine: Looking Forward by Looking Back

The Imagine curriculum was developed as a project of The Next Fifty in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. This curriculum uses the fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition, as a lens through which students will examine life in the Pacific Northwest fifty years ago and identify similarities and differences in today’s world. The curriculum challenges students to look at where we are now and imagine where we will go in the future by analyzing where we have come from in the past five decades.

Ten individual units provide interesting and relevant themes, ranging from the emergence of civil rights for women and communities of color; the changing geography (both physical and human) of the Pacific Northwest; the differences in marketing, advertising, popular culture, and technology; to the lasting physical, cultural, and personal legacies of the fair. Carefully planned activities provide background information, primary and secondary sources, worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, audio and video clips, maps, and suggested teaching strategies.

The Imagine curriculum content and format were developed to align with Washington State Academic Standards, National Social Studies Themes, National Geography Standards, and Newman’s Criteria for Authentic Assessment. All unit and extension activities have been designed to enhance the basic themes of The Next Fifty by stimulating imagination, encouraging innovation, and promoting individual and group involvement.

Introduction Unit, Fair Enough: This unit provides basic information about the Imagine project and its sponsors.

Unit 1, Through the Looking Glass: Students will explore primary and secondary sources related to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair to compare, contrast, and interpret where we were 50 years ago, where we are today, and where we will be in the future.  It is recommended that basic information and/or selected activities from this unit be reviewed prior to using units 2-10 in order to introduce students to the Seattle World’s Fair and what life was like in 1962. (Appropriate for grades 3-12)

Unit 2, Symbol in the Sky: Students will identify which landmarks and events (from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair) were viewed as most significant as interpreted through souvenirs and stories that have been saved through the years. (Appropriate for grades 3-4)

Unit 3, Everyone was Fairly Represented Students will learn which states and nations participated in the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and how specific symbols represented each. (Appropriate for grades 3-4)

Unit 4, Journeys to the Center: Students will travel along with the authors of original historical postcards from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair to analyze who came to the fair, how they got there, and why they came.  Students are challenged to interpret how these journeys differ from those students might take today. (Appropriate for grades 3-11)

Unit 5, The Fairer Sex:  Students will examine how women were involved in and portrayed at the fair by looking at a variety of primary and secondary sources. Students will learn an engaging way to present their conclusions -- by creating their own document-based plays. (Appropriate for grades 7-12)

Unit 6,  Sounds Fair: Students will use music and popular culture to navigate across time, space, and cultural perspectives by comparing trends of 1962 to those of today. (Appropriate for grades 4-12)

Unit 7,  Re-imagining Seattle Through Maps and Images: Students will examine the physical and human landscape of Seattle during the 1962 World’s Fair as a means to incorporate Geography activities and standards into classroom activities. (Appropriate for grades 4-8)

Unit 8, Building the Fair: Students will examine how the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair site was transformed from a mixed-use neighborhood into the Seattle Center we know today ad how this process was the product of human decisions, negotiations, and sacrifices. (Appropriate for grades 5-8)

Unit 9, What’s Science Got to Do With It?  Students will learn about the historical framework, technological methods, and actual events portrayed at the U.S. Science Pavilion at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and analyze the relationship of the international space-race to the fair and public sentiment. (Appropriate for grades 6-12)

Unit 10,  Marketing the Fair:   Students will investigate a selection of primary and secondary sources, including  The Seattle Times Historical Archives, to identify how societal and political themes and technology have changed from the 1960s to today. (Appropriate for grades 10-12, Economics)


Appendix 1, Resources: Annotated list  of 1962 Seattle World’s Fair primary and secondary sources, exhibits, and events.

Appendix 2, Walking Tour: A simple walking tour that can be used as a field trip or to develop field trip activities. Photos

Appendix 3, Curriculum Team: More about the educators who developed this curriculum and contact information.

Appendix 4, Oral History Techniques and Projects: Simple suggestions to get you started on a basic oral history project.

The Imagine curriculum is a project of The Next Fifty and was made possible with funding from Seattle Center Foundation and 4Culture. Additional in-kind support was provide by KCTS 9, HistoryLink.org, The Seattle Times Newspapers In Education, Jack Straw Productions, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Architectural Foundation, Bellevue Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools, and Edmonds School District.

Next Fifty HistoryLink KCTS9
4 Culture
National Archives Seattle Jack Straw Productions The Seattle Times


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