A Separate Peace Web Quest

Electronic Time Capsule

A Web Quest of the 1940s



It is now 2004--more than 60 years after Gene graduates and leaves Devon School.  Imagine that  Gene  once again returns to Devon School and reflects on his experiences as a sixteen-year-old boy attending the preparatory school in 1942 during World War II.  

To help Gene remember his life as a sixteen-year-old, find information that was relevant to his life at the time. Consider things like:

  • World War II
  • The draft
  • Political leaders
  • Top songs
  • Popular authors, singers, actors, etc.
  • New inventions
  • New Hampshire
  • Preparatory schools
  • Fashion


Your job will be to create a  PowerPoint-formatted electronic time capsule for Gene that will help him  remember the summer that changed his life. You will burn your time capsule onto a CD. Your PowerPoint presentation should be 15-20 slides in length (not counting works cited slides).


You will collect a variety of information on 1942. With the data you find, you will develop a list of items to include in an electronic time capsule that will give an overall representation of the time.

You will have two class days to complete the time capsule project and may work with two other people.  Groups of three will be able to complete the assignment in the computer lab during the two days announced by Mrs. Adams.

To help Gene remember his life as a sixteen-year-old, find information that was relevant to his life at the time. Consider things like:

  • World War II and its South Pacific battles
  • Advertisements and propaganda posters
  • Political leaders
  • Top songs
  • Popular authors, singers, actors, etc.
  • New inventions and medical discoveries
  • Preparatory schools
  • Fashion

Search the websites provided and decide what will be important to a junior in high school in 1942. Make a list of what you will include in the electronic time capsule. Compile the materials to create a PowerPoint presentation of your research.

  • Fifteen-twenty PowerPoint slides for content and one-two more for works cited sources will work well for this project.  Too many PowerPoint slides will cause your audience to yawn.

  • It is important to use pictures, but incorporate them creatively. You can also use your own artwork if it is appropriate. Be sure to title and/or caption your graphics.

  • Do not feel limited to this list of items to include!!! Try to think of other forms of documentation to use -- creativity is a large portion of your grade.


Homepage of Exeter Academy.

Article by John Knowles discussing his time at Exeter.

Photographic essay of the moods and setting of A Separate Peace.

Description of Exeter's response to the coming of World War II.

Discussion of life at Exeter during World War II.

Changes made at Exeter to meet special circumstances caused by the draft.

How labor entered the curriculum at Exeter.

John Knowles discusses his novel.

Faculty perspective of life at Exeter in the forties.

An educational website dedicated to the New Deal and surrounding times that contains links to speeches, photos, letters, and interviews.

A subject index for the New Deal Network. May be useful to search for specific subjects.

Approximately 30,000 political cartoons about Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration.

Homepage for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum

Photographs of the Great Depression.

Photographs of World War II

Pictures from National Archives of World War II.

Links to timelines and information on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the New Deal.

Photographs from the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection of America from 1935-1945.

Heisman Award winners.

Article on
TIME magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1942..

Summary of battles in Pacific between U.S. Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy.

Information on Casablanca.

Information on Roy Rogers.

A list of movies from various time periods.

A list of World War II movies.

Random facts about American history.

Pictures of Cars from the 1930s and 1940s

Lyrics to "White Christmas."

A guide to the Oscars of 1942.

History of the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Information on the Glenn Miller Band.

A good search engine for finding information not provided by previous links.


 An "A" capsule must include at least these  components:

CONTENT: 70 points

  • information about WW II battles in the Pacific
  • 2 advertisements and/or American propaganda posters from the early 1940s
  • information about a popular song(s) and/or singers
  • information about popular authors, singers, actors, etc.
  • information about a new invention or medical discovery
  • information about typical teenage clothing for young men
  • information about American political leaders during 1942-1945
  • material is well-researched, well-written, and well-organized
  • material shows understanding of the major ideas in the assignment

TECHNICAL: 30 points

  • PowerPoint displays  critical thinking in placement of text, sequencing of pages, and page composition
  • Works cited slides are complete (at end of PowerPoint)
  • Presentation includes 15-20 slides unified by cohesive slide backgrounds
  • Slides transition in an effective, but not distracting manner


As a concluding activity, be ready to upload your PowerPoint onto the school’s website for six weeks for other folks to learn from.  In class, we’ll look at everyone’s PowerPoint presentations and offer feedback.

Many thanks to Florida State University which provided the original idea for A Separate Peace web quest.  I have adapted their web quest for my classes.

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