This is one of my FAVORITE activities to do with Social Studies. I took this idea from a book called, The Big Six by Dr. Peter Seixas which includes information and activities about how to effectively teach students to think historically.
In this activity, basically what I do is I pose the following scenario:
"The Inventors and Businessmen of the Second Industrial Revolution have all gone up in a hot air balloon. Unfortunately, it has a hole in it and the balloon is going down quickly! We are only able to save 2 of the seven. Based on their impact on the US as a whole, who would you save?"
I have the students either work as a group or independently to fill out this organizer which asks them to rank the person based on their impact on a scale of 1-7 (one being the highest and 7 being the lowest) and then describe why they ranked them that way.
There is an option at the bottom for them to explain all of their conclusions via a journal entry.
After all of that, we vote on it as a class based on whom they chose as their number 1. They get really into it!