My final project is an interactive timeline of the U.S. government’s involvement in the development of sex education in public schools. In pondering my own high school’s sex education curriculum, and hearing experiences from friends and peers over the years, I decided to dig deeper into how public schools have come to teach sex education to young people. It turns out, both the federal and state government have more of a say in what we are taught in health class than I originally thought. So, in order to better understand this connection, I used an open-source timeline software called Knightlab to track the development of sex education over the last 100 or so years.
When I was first brainstorming for this project, I wanted the content to go in many different directions. Initially, I planned to create a dual timeline with one section focusing on major events in American history that influenced sex education, and the other timeline to show how sex education changed as a result of those events. I also wanted to emphasize feminist history, and highlight historical instances when women took ownership over their bodies, sexuality, and pleasure.
As I found our time in class coming to an end, I simultaneously realized that my original project plan might have been too complex for Knightlab. So instead, I decided to make a simple yet engaging timeline tracking major time periods and dates when American society was changing, and the government’s implementation of sex education was responding those changes.
Knightlab is a relatively easy software to use. Their website provides you with a pre-formatted excel spreadsheet, and you simply copy and paste the spreadsheet’s URL, plug it into the Knightlab website and it provides you with a link and converts the information into a timeline. I would argue that the most challenging part about using Knightlab is inputting images. The software will not convert images to the timeline that are only inserted onto the spreadsheet. Instead, you have to use the image’s URL with “jpeg” at the end in order for the images to show up on the timeline. Having a history background, I had already picked out archival images for my timeline before I started experimenting with the software. However, many of those images did not allow you to access a working URL, so I deferred to using images from google (which felt so wrong in my historian brain.)
Below is a link to my timeline!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use Knightlab and creating this sex education timeline. It was nice to be less worried about complex historical scholarship, and just focus on organizing basic information in an interesting way. I also really loved being as creative as I could with the photos and focusing on making attention grabbing content. I hope to continue my research on this topic for future use.
Here is a link to a Word Press site I created for the bibliography:
3 Replies to “Final Project – Sex Education Timeline”
Katie – I learned so much scrolling through your timeline! Thank you for including an abbreviated description of the software you used for the project. I think this format is a really interesting way to present information and it’s something I would definitely consider using in the future. One thing I love about this (which is similar to ArcGIS StoryMaps that I used for my digital project) is that the imagery is showcased throughout, which in my opinion makes it that much more impactful. Great work Katie!
Katie! This is awesome! I love your topic so much, I think sex ed is a interesting topic that I feel is not discussed enough and when it is I lowkey want to end it all. I think putting the discussion of sex ed in its historical context is so helpful and like Karly I loved the addition of photos! You did a great job!
Hi Katie! Thank you so much for putting this together. Your use of Knight Lab is fantastic and it is something I would love to use in the future. How did you decide what was “too historical” to put in? Who is the ideal audience you pictured while creating this timeline?