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Coining Scientific Discoveries

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Summary

Students will be able to explain the objectives of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the relationship of those objectives to the designs of the Westward Journey Nickel Series™. The students will use primary documents and the Internet to conduct independent research about some of the scientific artifacts that Lewis and Clark examined on their Expedition. Students will prepare presentations of their materials and incorporate their new knowledge into an original coin design to give their classmates a better understanding of the role that scientific exploration played in Lewis and Clark’s journey.

Coin Type(s)

  • Nickel

Coin Program(s)

  • Westward Journey Nickel Series

Objectives

  • Students will be able to explain the objectives of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the relationship of those objectives to the designs od the Westward Journey Nickel Series™.
  • The students will use primary documents and the Internet to conduct independent research about some of the scientific artifacts that Lewis and Clark examined on their Expedition.
  • Students will prepare presentations of their materials and incorporate their new knowledge into an original coin design to give their classmates a better understanding of the role that scientific exploration played in Lewis and Clark’s journey.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Technology

Grades

  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Four
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 151-500 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

The students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • The Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Circulating coins and the Westward Journey Nickel Series
  • Journal writing
  • Basic research skills
  • Internet navigation
  • Basic presentation skills

Terms and Concepts

  • Obverse (heads)
  • Primary documentation
  • Reverse (tails)
  • Journal
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Flora
  • Corps of Discovery
  • Fauna
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Specimen
  • Keelboat
  • Scientific drawing
  • Peace Medal
  • Northwest Passage
  • Mission
  • American Indians
  • Objective
  • Exploration

Materials

Preparations

  • Make one overhead transparency of each of the following:
    • Pre-2004 Monticello nickel obverse from the Resource Guide.
    • “Mission Objectives” graphic organizer.
    • “Shira’s Moose Example” sheet.
    • “Shira’s Moose Drawing” sheet.
  • Gather some Peace Medal Nickels (1 per small group).
  • Gather some Keelboat Nickels (1 per small group).
  • Make copies of each of the following:
    • “Introduction” or “Lewis and Clark Expedition Overview” from the Resource Guide (1 copy).
    • President Jefferson’s initial letter to Meriwether Lewis (1 per student).
    • “New Nickel Fact Sheet” (1 per student).
    • “Flora Discoveries” sheet (1 copy).
    • “Fauna Discoveries” sheet (1 copy).
    • “Specimen Journal” sheet (2 per student).
    • “Specimen Drawing” sheet (2 per student).
    • “My Nature Nickel” sheet (1 per student).
  • Arrange to use the school computer lab during your class period on two consecutive days.
  • Bookmark appropriate Internet sites.
  • Locate appropriate texts that provide information about the flora and fauna explored during the Lewis and Clark Expedition (see examples under “Materials”).
  • Develop a rubric for the students’ presentations, journal entries, and coin designs, if desired. This rubric should be shared with the students before they develop their presentations.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/pdf/192.pdf.

Session 1

  1. Display the overhead transparency of the pre-2004 Monticello nickel obverse. Ask the students to examine the image and tell you what they know about it. The students should be able to identify it as the obverse (front) of a United States nickel and that the individual on this coin is President Thomas Jefferson.
  2. Ask the students if they have heard of or have seen any recent changes to this familiar coin. Students may note that the reverse (back) of this coin has recently changed. Guide the students to understand that the new coin reverse designs incorporate images that relate to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Ask the students why they think the government would have decided to change the design of this coin and why the this journey is an appropriate theme on the nickel. Students may realize that 2004 marked the bicentennial of the official start to the Expedition.
  3. Ask leading questions to assess the students’ pre-activity knowledge of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Using either the “Introduction” or the “Lewis and Clark Expedition Overview” from the Resource Guide, review basic information about the Expedition. Do not distribute copies of these—they contain information that the students will research later in this lesson.
  4. Return to the transparency of the pre-2004 Monticello nickel obverse. Ask the students to explain the connection between President Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Students should explain that President Jefferson purchased the land that he was sending Lewis and Clark to explore.
  5. Distribute a copy of President Jefferson’s initial letter to Meriwether Lewis to each student. Direct the students to read this letter independently and highlight or underline any information about Thomas Jefferson’s objectives for this mission.
  6. Display the transparency of the “Mission Objectives” graphic organizer. Guide students to categorize the mission objectives for the expedition as stated by Jefferson. Guide students toward developing three primary areas in which to categorize these objectives for the Corps: Water and Land Exploration, American Indians, and Scientific Discoveries.
  7. Divide the students into small groups of three or four. Distribute a Peace Medal Nickel and a Keelboat Nickel to each group. Also distribute a “New Nickel Fact Sheet” to each student.
  8. Ask each group to carefully read about and examine the reverse of both nickels. Direct the students to discuss to which mission objective each coin most closely relates (the Peace Medal Nickel relates to the goal of developing positive relations with American Indian tribes as the design is derived from the original Jefferson Peace Medal that Lewis and Clark gave as a gift to tribal leaders they met along the trail). Students should be able to defend these statements with the information from the reading.
  9. Regroup and ask the students to share with the class what they discussed in their small groups. Add this information to the “Mission Objectives” graphic organizer.
  10. Collect all nickels from the small groups.

Sessions 2 and 3

  1. Revisit the previous day’s discussion by asking students to redefine the mission objectives for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Display a partially-covered copy of the overhead transparency of the “Mission Objectives” graphic organizer. As students list these objectives, reveal them on the overhead transparency.
  2. Ask students to take out their “New Nickel Fact Sheets” and reexamine the newest nickels produced by the United States Mint. Ask students to recall which coin they felt most closely aligned with which mission objective. Students will likely note that the Peace Medal Nickel is most closely related to the mission of developing positive relations with American Indian tribes along the trail, and the Keelboat Nickel is most closely related to Lewis and Clark’s mission of seeking out a direct passage to the Pacific Ocean via the Missouri River. The students should notice that neither the Peace Medal Nickel nor the Keelboat Nickel specifically refers to the scientific studies of Lewis and Clark.
  3. Place a star next to the scientific exploration objective and explain that you will be focusing on some of Lewis and Clark’s scientific discoveries today.
  4. On the board, write a list of the flora and fauna specified on the “Flora Discoveries” and “Fauna Discoveries” sheets. Explain that these are just a few of the many plants and animals discovered, but they are some that are featured more prominently in the journals.
  5. Explain that each student will need to select a specific plant and animal from this list that they will research in the computer lab and in the classroom. Explain that students will be responsible for locating and recording the following information (list these requirements in a location that is visible to all students throughout the research period):
    • The name of the plant or animal discovery
    • The discovery’s scientific name
    • A description of the plant or animal
    • An image of the plant or animal
    • The date(s) and location(s) where Lewis and Clark noted this discovery in their journal
    • A significant journal quote in which a Corps member referred to this discovery
    • The relevance of this plant or animal to the American Indians and/or the Corps of Discovery members
    • The organism’s current status (extinct or thriving) and purpose in society
  6. Distribute two copies of the “Specimen Journal” and “Specimen Drawing” sheets to each student. Students will record their information and will also make a scientific drawing of each of their specimens on these pages. The teacher may need to explain the difference between an illustration and a scientific drawing at this point.
  7. Model an exemplary presentation for the students using the overhead transparency of the “Shira’s Moose Example” sheet. Explain that, once they have completed their research and journal writing, the students will each be asked to make a presentation of their findings to the class.
  8. Escort the class to the computer lab. Explain that the students will conduct appropriate Internet research to find the information they need. Explain that there are also additional resources in their classroom to assist their research.
  9. Allow the students to use the remainder of the class period and the following period to conduct their research, work on their journal entries, and develop their independent presentations.

Session 4 (and 5 if necessary)

  1. Allow each student to present one of his or her journal entries to the class in order to give the students a more complete understanding of the magnitude of the discoveries that were made during the Expedition.
  2. In a three-ring binder, compile the students’ work into a class “Journal of Rediscovery!” and place this journal on display for the students to refer to throughout their study of Lewis and Clark.
  3. As a class, discuss the reasons that these discoveries would be important to American society. Why would people have wanted to know about these Northwestern plants and animals, particularly before they moved to this new area of the United States?
  4. Display the “Mission Objectives” graphic organizer and remind the students that they noted that there is no nickel design yet that represents the scientific findings of Lewis and Clark. Reiterate that the Peace Medal Nickel represents the American Indian objective, and that the Keelboat Nickel represents the land and water objective.
  5. Distribute a “My Nature Nickel” page to each student and explain that, based on their research, they will now design their own new nickel reverse that exemplifies this third mission of the Corps of Discovery: the scientific exploration of organisms.
  6. Allow some of the students to share their nickel designs with the class, and add them all to the class journal. As a class, discuss how these coin designs express this third mission objective.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Students can work in pairs or small groups to complete their exploration of primary source documents and their flora and fauna research.
  • Allow students to type or draw rather than write their journal entries.

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Students can explore where some of Lewis and Clark’s discoveries are now located throughout the United States. What type of soil and land are in that area? Why would this type of land, soil, and climate be most conducive to this organism’s health?
  • Once students have compiled their “Journals of Rediscovery,” they may want to study, write journal entries, and gather and press plants from their area in the style of Lewis and Clark.
  • Students can visit local taxidermy shops to examine animal artifacts from their area and write journal entries in the style of Lewis and Clark. Create an online class collection of artifacts that is entitled “Virtual Rediscovery Museum.”
  • Using a wall map of the United States, allow the students to pinpoint the location of their flora and fauna discoveries. Allow the students to mark this point with some data relating to that discovery (its name, date of discovery, its picture, etc.)
  • Develop a rubric for the students’ presentations, journal entries, and coin designs. This rubric should be shared with the students before they develop their presentations.
  • Take anecdotal notes about the students’ group work, discussions, and research.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.8 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grade 8
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details
Standards:

  • RI.8.1. Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • RI.8.2. Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • RI.8.3. Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.7 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 8
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration
Standards:

  • SL.7.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
    • Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
    • Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that bring the discussion back on topic as needed.
    • Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, modify their own views.
  • SL.7.2. Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.
  • SL.7.3. Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.8 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 8
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration
Standards:

  • SL.8.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Come to discussions prepared having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
    • Follow rules for collegial discussions and decision-making, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
    • Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.
    • Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
  • SL.8.2. Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • SL.8.3. Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.7 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 8
Cluster: Production and Distribution of Writing
Standards:

  • W.7.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
  • W.7.5. With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grade 7.)
  • W.7.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.8 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 8
Cluster: Production and Distribution of Writing
Standards:

  • W.8.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
  • W.8.5. With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grade 8.)
  • W.8.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.8 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 8
Cluster: Text Types and Purposes
Standards:

  • W.8.1. Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
    • Introduce claim(s), acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.
    • Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.
    • Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
    • Establish and maintain a formal style.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
  • W.8.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
    • Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
    • Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
    • Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
    • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
    • Establish and maintain a formal style.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.
  • W.8.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
    • Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
    • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
    • Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.
    • Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
    • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.7 Language
Grade(s): Grade 8
Cluster: Conventions of Standard English
Standards:

  • L.7.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • Explain the function of phrases and clauses in general and their function in specific sentences.
    • Choose among simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences to signal differing relationships among ideas.
    • Place phrases and clauses within a sentence, recognizing and correcting misplaced and dangling modifiers.
  • L.7.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (e.g., It was a fascinating, enjoyable movie but not He wore an old[,] green shirt).
    • Spell correctly.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.8 Language
Grade(s): Grade 8
Cluster: Conventions of Standard English
Standards:

  • L.8.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • Explain the function of verbals (gerunds, participles, infinitives) in general and their function in particular sentences.
    • Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice.
    • Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood.
    • Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood.
  • L.8.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.
    • Use an ellipsis to indicate an omission.
    • Spell correctly.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Science, Technology, and Society
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • enable learners to identify, describe, and examine both current and historical examples of the interaction and interdependence of science, technology, and society in a variety of cultural settings
  • provide opportunities for learners to make judgments about how science and technology have transformed the physical world and human society and our understanding of time, space, place, and human-environment interactions
  • have learners analyze the way in which science and technology influence core societal values, beliefs, and attitudes and how societal attitudes influence scientific and technological endeavors
  • prompt learners to evaluate various policies proposed to deal with social changes resulting from new technologies
  • help learners to identify and interpret various perspectives about human societies and the physical world using scientific knowledge, technologies, and an understanding of ethical standards of this and other cultures
  • encourage learners to formulate strategies and develop policy proposals pertaining to science/technology-society issues

Discipline: Science
Domain: 5-8 Content Standards
Cluster: Life Science
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Structure and function in living systems
  • Reproduction and heredity
  • Regulation and behavior
  • Populations and ecosystems
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms

Discipline: Science
Domain: 5-8 Content Standards
Cluster: Science as Inquiry
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understand scientific inquiry