Introducing Technological Change Through History With Mike Mulligan

The story of Mike Mulligan and his dedicated steam shovel, fondly known as Mary Anne, are a great conversation opener for so many topics. In a bid for a contract Mike needed to prove that Mary Anne in one day was capable of doing the work of 100 hundred men in a week. As a testimony to good old hard work, Mike and Mary Anne did exactly that but created a dilemma in the process, one that has a beautiful outcome.

One of my favourite ways to use this book is to introduce the topic of technological change over time This book speaks into the history of engines and is a great starter book as you look into the industrial age right through to today’s technology, particularly the development of modern communications technology. Poor Mary Anne was in direct competition with her more modern counterparts and had to prove her worth as an engine that appeared to have been superseded.

Visits to historical museums are a must for home educators using this title. Of course, no museum is the same and each has their own key exhibits. From ‘cheese’ museums that show items that were used in historical cheese manufacture to ‘transport’ museums that look at changes in travel through to ‘pastoral’ museums that look at historical farming equipment you can choose any one to explore technological change over time or even look at several. Then, it would be complemented by a visit to a modern equivalent. Plan into your program a trip to a cheese maker, car dealer or mechanic, or a modern farm. It would make for a great research project that compares not just the technology of each era but also the impact that this technology has on daily life for those who use it.

Another great project is to get a ‘classic’ car and a late model vehicle side by side with their hoods open. Then, using someone with mechanical knowledge, explore the different components of each vehicle and discuss all the extra parts in newer vehicles and design changes that have occurred in parts such as the engine. As a spin off topic, through the exploration of accessories, there could be learning directed to safety in cars. This would include discussing how seat belts, air bags, brake assistance and stability control work in a vehicle, the purpose that they serve, their effectiveness and that they as a user of transportation can keep themselves safe.

Alternate Educational Uses

This amazing book by Virginia Lee Burton opens up so many more conversations, though, then just conversation over technological change consider the following ideas.

An interesting retrospective study for older children that can come from this is on consumerism, disposable lifestyles and the waste of resources by first world nations. It can then provide a very interesting critical thinking exercise on whether it is important to care for and preserve of our possessions. This can lead to some really great hands on exercises on how to preserve different possessions. Safe storage of the products of photography, preserving timber surfaces, reupholstering and repairing furniture rather than replacing it, and researching alternate sources of household goods that are pre-loved.

Tied to this you can pull in excursions to antique stores and restoration businesses, spending the day in tuition from an upholsterer, and learning where one can source pre-loved goods both within budget, within the house’s era and how to care for them. From there, some home or communication based projects can be initiated using the skills learned through these excursions. Polishing silver, restoring timber, repairing goods. Just imagine what your child could do in aid of an elderly neighbour!

Another fantastic idea is to discuss the importance of our history, not just national history, but also that of communities and that of families. Studying one’s own family history and learning lessons from our elders can bring a child’s life into perspective. As a teenager, many home educated children can explain why their parents are the way they are through study of the lives of their parent’s parents. This opens a door to genealogy and the lives of familial ancestors a process that will reinforce learning about national and local history for those family members.

Another totally separate thread that learning could take from this wonderful book is grounded on the dilemma that Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne faced after they completed their task. (You’ll need to read the book to find out what that dilemma was). Of course, this speaks into a skill that is highly sought in workplaces and is essential to the operation of a family home – planning! This brings in the opportunity to discuss the importance of planning, types of planning, how to plan, communicating your plan to others and how planning can assist in preventing dilemmas like the one that needed to be resolved in this book.

This book is a great book for a child of any age and is a great resource in the library of any parent. It has my own five star rating and I would recommend you check it out for yourself! This book crosses many societal barriers that many other titles introduce and creates a safe base to enter the topic of history with an open mind.

The Aston Martin DB2/4 Sports Car

The Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark 1 and 2 – A close look at this sports car including performance, technical data, features, comparing rivals, history, used prices.

From Classic to Modern

The Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark 1


In 1953, the DB2 sports car, the best-selling Aston Martin to date, was replaced by the Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark 1, priced at £2,621, which was offered as a Drophead Coupe, a 2+2 Hatchback Saloon, and a small number of Bertone designed Spider convertibles.

It had an aluminium body with a kerb weight of 1195 kg, and early cars were prepared by the legendary coachbuilder Mulliner although, by 1954, this was changed to the Tickford Company.

By modifying the area around the back axle, it was possible to introduce two rear seats together with an increase in the rear roofline, and convert the rear section into a hatchback.

Additions included the use of a wraparound windscreen, separate bumpers, and raising the position of the headlights.

When production of the Mark 1 ended in 1955, a total of 565 Mark 1’s had been built, of which 102 were Drophead Coupes, 458 Saloons, and the remaining 5 were Spiders.


The Mark 1 sports car was powered by the same engine as used in the DB2 Vantage, and consisted of a Lagonda 2.6 litre, DOHC, straight six unit that developed 125 bhp at 5000 rpm, and 144 ft/lbs of torque at 2400 rpm.

Fitted with a four speed manual gearbox, it produced a top speed of 111 mph, with a 0-60 mph time of 11.5 secs.

However, by early 1954, both the Saloon and Drophead Coupe were fitted with the larger 2.9 litre, DOHC, straight six Lagonda engine that developed 140 bhp at 5000 rpm, and 178 ft/lbs of torque at 3000 rpm.

Retaining the same gearbox and fitted with two SU HV6 carburettors, it produced a top speed of 118 mph, with a 0-60 mph time of 9.7 secs.

It used hydraulic drum brakes all round, and there was now a marginal increase in weight to 1210 kg.

The Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark 2


Also in 1955, Aston Martin Launched the Mark 2 version.

External styling changes included the addition of small fins at the rear, different rear lights as used in the Morris Minor, and an increase in the use of chrome.

A new two seater Fixed Head Coupe variant was introduced, whilst retaining the Drophead Coupe, although only 34 units were produced using bodies hand-made by the Tickford Company, which had been acquired by David Brown in 1954.

As part of a special order, three of these chassis were dispatched to the Italian coachbuilders Carrozzeria Touring in order to create the Spider Variant.

By the time production of the Mark 2 ended in 1957, a total of 199 units had been built, of which 146 were Saloons, 34 Fixed Head Coupes, 16 Drophead Coupes, and 3 Spiders.


As an optional extra, the Mark 2 sports car was fitted with the more powerful version of the 2.9 litre, Lagonda engine which included larger valves, and the compression increased to 8.6:1.

This enabled output to increase to 165 bhp, and produced a top speed of 120 mph, with a 0-60 mph time of 9.3 secs.


The following sports cars were typical of the competition for the DB2/4: Jaguar XK140, Maserati 3500GT, Maserati A6HG, and BMW 507.


An Aston Martin DB2/4 in good condition would command in the region of $120,000/£75,000 to $250,000/£150,000, whilst a really superb example would fetch around $500,000/£300,000.

This concludes my Aston Martin DB2 Sports Car Review

The Aston Martin DB3 and DB3S Sports Car

The Aston Martin DB3 and DB3S – A close look at this sports car including performance, technical data, features, comparing rivals, history, used prices

from Classic to Modern

The Aston Martin DB3


The final evolution of the DB2 sports car, which was introduced in 1950, took the form of the DB2/4 Mark 3, production of which ended in 1959.

Although based on the DB2, the two seater Aston Martin DB3, launched in 1951, was the pure racing variant of which, by 1953, a total of ten cars had been built.

The first five racers were allocated as works cars, whilst the remaining five were sold into the open market.

Its racing debut was the 1951 Tourist Trophy, during which it was forced to retire.

In 1952, works DB3’s, fitted with the 2.6 litre engine, finished second to fourth at Silverstone against stiff competition from Ferrari and Jaguar’s C-Type.

In all, the DB3 sports car was unsuccessful on the track since, in most cases, it was forced to retire for any number of reasons.

The cars only major victory for Aston Martin was the 1952 Goodwood 9 Hour race.


The early DB3 was powered by a 2.6 litre, DOHC, straight six engine, as fitted to the DB2 Vantage, that developed 140 bhp at 5200 rpm, and produced a top speed of 131 mph, with 0-60 mph in 8.6 secs.

With a compression of 8.2:1, it was fitted with a five speed manual David Brown gearbox, had drum brakes all round, and an aluminium body on a tubular steel chassis.

However, it was soon found that the 2.6 litre unit was inadequate and, in mid 1952, it was replaced by the larger 2.9 litre engine, which produced 165 bhp.

A small number of DB3’s were also produced as a coupe variant.

The Aston Martin DB3S


Due to its weight, the DB3 turned out to be uncompetitive.

However, introduced in 1953, the two seater DB3S sports car was the lightweight version of the DB3, fitted with a shorter wheelbase and lighter chassis.

By the time production ended in 1956, a total of 31 DB3S’s had been built, of which 11 were the works variant (as two fixed head coupes and 9 open tops), with the remaining 20 being sold to customers (as 3 fixed head coupes and 17 open tops).

The coupe variant was more aerodynamic and with lower drag than the open top, and so produced a higher top speed.

Unfortunately, it tended to be less stable at high speed, resulting from additional lift.

In 1954, both works coupes were fitted with 225 bhp engines, which were then modified, by the addition of a supercharger, to develop an additional 15 bhp.

However, instability caused both cars to crash in that years Le Mans.

Reverting back to the open top variant, the DB3S scored a second placing in both the 1955 and 1956 Le Mans 24 Hour, with Stirling Moss at the wheel in the latter race.

The DB3S was succeeded by the enigmatic DBR1, which was victorious at Le Mans in 1959.


The 2.9 litre, DOHC, straight six now developed 210 bhp at 6000 rpm, and produced a top speed of 145 mph.

With a compression of 8.7:1, it was fitted with a manual close ratio four speed David Brown gearbox, three Weber twin choke carburettors, disc brakes all round, and its aluminium body produced a curb weight of 914 kg.


Chief amongst competitors for the Aston Martin DB3S were the following sports cars: Jaguar C-Type, and Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa


One of the DB3S’s was placed at auction with a value in the region of $4m.

This concludes my Aston Martin DB2 Sports Car Review