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Driving Back Through History



Driving Back Through History
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   10.12

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    gottlieb, horseless, internal-combustion, minivan, minivans, operational, self-propelled, steam-driven, breakthrough, burning, convert, original, production, well-known, greatly, worldwide
     content words:    Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, Richard Trevthick, Stanley Steamer, Their Stanley Steamer, World War One, Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Panhard Car, Charles Duryea, Frank Duryea


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Driving Back Through History
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     It may be hard to imagine, but there once was a world without automobiles. In this world, people traveled by foot, by horse, by wagon, and when necessary, by simple row boats. Now everywhere you look, minivans, sedans, coupes, and sports cars fill our neighborhood streets and the highways of America. So who had the breakthrough idea to invent a machine that would help people leave the comfort of their homes to explore other places? Actually, many ingenious scientists and inventors played an important role in the birth and development of the automobile.
 
2     Scientists define automobiles as self-propelled, four-wheeled vehicles that are used to travel on land. These mechanical wonders are built to carry two to four passengers and limited cargo. As science continued to advance and more discoveries were made, this operational definition of automobiles became very important. Scientists needed to distinguish automobiles from trucks and buses. Trucks, which have larger heavier parts, were designed to carry goods and products. Buses were designed to carry larger amounts of people and small loads of cargo. However, let's not exit from our original topic too quickly.
 
3     The first scientist to build a self-propelled vehicle was French engineer Nicolas Joseph Cugnot. He built a heavy three-wheeled steam-driven carriage in Paris in 1789. This carriage had a boiler or compartment for converting water to steam that was attached to the front of the vehicle. Its speed was an exciting three miles per hour (about five kilometers per hour). In 1801, Richard Trevthick, an English engineer, built a three-wheeled, steam driven car. The engine propelled the vehicle by driving the rear wheels. Just when scientists and inventors were trying to perfect the steam-driven carriage, obstacles in the form of laws got in their way.

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