ND Lewis & Clark Resource Collection


Plants / Animals Seen by Lewis & Clark
Jean Legge



Subject / Curriculum




Grade Level



Time Frame

10 class periods




Student groups will select a topic to explore and answer the question: What medicinal plants/plants were used for food or medicine or animals were seen by Lewis & Clark? Did the medical treatments work? Students will conduct research to find references to these plants or animals and their uses by Lewis & Clark»s Corps of Discovery by using materials available such as journals, books, internet sources, library materials.


Students should become familiar with documenting sources when reporting findings.


Each group will devise a plan to find out, record and share their findings electronically: making a web page or a PowerPoint presentation for display to others.


Field activity: Students may explore their local area to see if any similar plants/animals discovered by Lewis & Clark are to be found where students live today. Photos or digital images can be shared electronically in their project production. Images (use plants/animal keys to identify them). If outdoor activities are unable to be conducted, use of field guides with range maps will help students see what can be found in their area.


Students will be asked to assess what they learned from this activity relating to science, to history and to technology.

Standards and Benchmarks Addressed:


Grade Levels: 5-8 Benchmarks
Benchmark 8.2.2 Design and carry out a scientific investigation.
Benchmark 8.2.3 Use appropriate technology and techniques to gather and interpret data.
Benchmark 8.2.4   Use acquired data to develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models.
Benchmark 8.2.7 Communicate scientific procedures, explanations, results and conclusions in a variety of ways.
Benchmark 8.6.1 Design a solution, using science and technology, to a problem related to human needs or wants.
Benchmark 8.7.1 Understand how science influences personal health.

Benchmarks Grades 9-12
12.2.1 Identify problems, develop appropriate questions and recognize relevant concepts that guide scientific investigations.
12.2.2 Design and conduct investigations in various ways to solve problems in a variety of forms.
12.2.4 Collect, organize, analyze and use data to solve problems.
12.2.7 Use knowledge and skills from other academic disciplines to solve problems in science.
12.2.8 Use various forms of communication to present results and explanations of scientific investigations.
12.4.5 Understand the interdependence of organisms and their environments.
12.6.2 Use technological design to solve a problem or to improve current technology.
12.7.1 Understand how science relates to personal and community health issues.
12.8.2 Understand the nature of scientific knowledge.



Detailed Description of Activity:

Groups will discuss the project, determine their selected area of focus and plan how to achieve the answers to the questions. The group will determine how to communicate their findings, and begin collecting data, objects, photos, research in the fall.  Best timing for plants and animals for outdoor viewing and collecting activities is early September.

Evaluating available information and research can be done indoors, late fall into early winter.  Communicating findings after organizing and evaluating, and documenting sources can be done at a later convenient time.

Questions to address:

  • What plants or animals did Lewis & Clark see, record and find helpful during their North Dakota passage?
  • What plants did Meriwether Lewis feel were important for medicinal benefits and what was he treating?
  • What similar plants and animals are here today in North Dakota that students could see, record and find helpful today?
  • Is diversity of plants and animals important?
  • How can students find out and communicate their findings to other interested persons?

Project participants are encouraged to select an area to focus on (for example - native plants, or medicinal plants, grasses, wildflowers, birds, trees of North Dakota or animals).  The project activities would encourage field exploration as well as library and internet research for information.  I would prefer to emphasize plants and organisms native to North Dakota, and that are mentioned in the journals of Lewis & Clark.

Find some specific references about helpful or interesting plants and animals from Lewis & Clark journal writings from books written or internet information sources.

Next, how can students find out what types of plants and animals are located in their area?  Devise a plan to do find out, record and share their findings.  How can students find plants that are considered medicinal, and what they have been used for?

Students will be encouraged to explore their home area to find out what types of plants, birds, trees, medicinal plants, etc. they can find locally.  Students would be encouraged to use a digital camera to photograph these in the field, or make a collection for their school. This will entail finding out how to make a proper collection: for plants, insects or animals.  How did Meriwether Lewis document his findings, and how did he preserve specimens?  Why did he preserve specimens?

Other requested information would include researching the plants/animals to find out more about their subject. Write a brief description about their finding for each plant, animal or insect found. 

If persons cannot get outside to do their own exploration for plants & animals, the activity can be conducted wholly with other resource materials from internet or library sources.  Students are encouraged to use field guides from their classroom, library or local experts.

I would ask students to document their source of information, and to include information from 3 kinds of sources:  Internet, books and scientific journals.

I will encourage students to learn how to accurately document their sources of information

My Students Will:
Junior High students will research what plants/animals are mentioned in the journals of Lewis & Clark. Students will share their findings with the other groups through posting in a manner yet to be determined.

High School classes will expand on this and examine medicinal qualities of plants mentioned in Lewis & Clark's journal writings.  They will research this by using books and Internet sources, and accurately record their findings and document their sources.  They will include digital photos of medicinal plants.  They will post this information and brief descriptions.

Distant schools participating in this project will be asked to:
contribute information about plants and animals found in their areas, or on topics they can find out about and contribute to the group's information fund.  Including photos and descriptions and documenting sources will be necessary to include.  I would ask that one group contribute butterfly/ host food information, and another do birds and another do animal information.  The extent of their contributions would depend on the level of grade they are working with, and their decisions on what to work on.



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