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Discovery, Ship to Shuttle

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Students will explain the meaning of discovery.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


Students will explain the meaning of discovery.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Art
  • Language Arts
  • Math


  • Second grade
  • Third grade

Class Time

Sessions: Three
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of how to sequence events.

Terms and Concepts

  • Quarter
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)
  • Discovery
  • Sequence/chronological order


  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Florida quarter reverse
  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 class map of the United States
  • Chart paper or chalkboard
  • Markers or chalk
  • 1 copy of an age-appropriate text that relates to Ponce de Leon’s journey to Florida, such as:
    • Juan Ponce De Leon by Claude Hurwicz
    • Ponce De Leon by Trish Kline
    • Magic Fountain by Sadyebeth and Anson Lowitz
    • Ponce De Leon: Explorer of Florida by Arlene Bourgeois Molzahn
    • Ponce De Leon: Juan Ponce De Leon Searches for the Fountain of Youth by Ann Heinrichs
    • Juan Ponce De Leon by Louise Chipley Slavicek
  • 1 copy of an age-appropriate text that relates to space exploration, such as:
    • One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong by Don Brown
    • Have Space Suit Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
    • Let’s Find Out About Space Travel by Martha. Shapp
    • Moonwalk: The First Trip to the Moon by Judy Donnelly
    • The First Travel Guide to the Moon: What to Pack, How to Go, and What to See When You Get There by Rhoda Blumberg
    • Walking on the Moon (Explore Space!) by Deborah A. Shearer and James Gerard
  • Copies of the “Discovery Design” page
  • Scissors
  • 1 overhead transparency of the “Discovery Designs Key” page


  • Make an overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Florida quarter reverse.
  • Locate an appropriate text that relates to Ponce de Leon’s journey to Florida (see examples under “Materials”).
  • Locate an appropriate text that relates to space exploration (see examples under “Materials).
  • Make copies of the “Discovery Design” page (1 per student).
  • Make an overhead transparency of the “Discovery Design Key” page.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at

Session 1

  1. Describe the 50 State Quarters® Program for background information, if necessary, using the example of your own state, if available. Then display the transparency or photocopy of the Florida quarter reverse. Locate Florida on a classroom map. Note its position in relation to your school’s location.
  2. Lead a class discussion on what the class sees on the coin. If it is not mentioned, point out the word ‘discovery’.
  3. Discuss with your students the concept of discovery. Instruct students to predict what the word means. Inform your students that a discovery is when someone is the first person to find, see or learn something that has previously been unknown.
  4. Refer to the picture of the ship on the Florida quarter reverse. Introduce the idea of a Spanish Galleon to your students, explaining that galleons were large three-masted ships used 500 years ago to explore and conquer new lands.
  5. Invite students to make predictions as to why this ship might be important to Florida and consequently selected to be on the state’s quarter design. Ask students what this ship might have discovered. Write down student responses on a piece of chart paper or on the board.
  6. Select an appropriate children’s text about Ponce de Leon. Introduce students to the selected text. As a group, preview the text and illustrations to generate observations about what might be occurring at different points in the book.
  7. Read the selected text aloud to the class. During the reading, attend to any unfamiliar vocabulary.
  8. After reading the book, discuss with students what Ponce de Leon discovered and that he was just one Spanish explorer out of many who explored lands far from his home.

Session 2

  1. With the students, review the pictures from the Florida quarter reverse. Invite students to make predictions as to why a space shuttle is part of the quarter design. Ask the students what this shuttle and the astronauts who piloted it might have discovered. Write down students’ predictions on a piece of chart paper.
  2. Select an appropriate children’s book about space exploration. Introduce the book to your students by explaining that Florida is where U.S. space shuttles are launched. As a group, preview the text and illustrations to generate observations about what might be occurring at different points in the book.
  3. Read the selected text aloud to the class. During the reading, attend to any unfamiliarvocabulary.
  4. Direct a class discussion on the discoveries that are represented on the Florida quarter reverse. Ask students to discuss why these discoveries are important and what impact they had on the world.

Session 3

  1. Recall the previous day’s lesson with your students. Ask them to recall the key word from yesterday’s lesson. Guide students to respond with “discovery.”
  2. Inform students that now that they have seen Florida’s important discoveries, it’s time to explore other important discoveries that had a strong impact on the world. Ask students to generate a class list of discoveries that changed their lives.
  3. Distribute copies of the “Discovery Designs” page and scissors to your students. Preview the pictures and titles in each box with students.
  4. Direct students to cut out the pictures and place them on their desks in what they believe to be chronological order of discovery, starting with the most recent.
  5. Invite your students to defend the rationale behind their decisions. Allow friendly debate between students.
  6. Inform students that it is time to reveal the answers. Place the “Discovery Designs Key” page on the overhead, covered.
  7. Unveil the first answer. Discuss when this event happened and why it is important today.
  8. Have students make predictions as to what the next event in the chronological order will be.
  9. Allow your students to rearrange the order of the events on their desk.
  10. Repeat steps 7 through 9 until all of the answers have been uncovered.
  11. Ask students to think about the importance of discoveries. Discuss with them what makes some discoveries more important than others.
  12. Direct students to arrange the events on their desks in order of importance. Remind students that there is no right or wrong answer for this activity, as long as students can back up their opinions with reasons why they feel a particular way.
  13. Allow an appropriate amount of time for students to discuss with a partner if needed.
  14. Invite students to share their events in order of importance for the rest of the class. Remind students to justify why this order makes sense to them.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Provide the dates of the events for students struggling with placing events in chronological order.
  • Limit the number of events that struggling students place in chronological order.


  • Analyze your state’s quarter design (if available) or a state that your students have visited. Discuss with your students how life would be different if the important moment, discovery, or event depicted on the coin had never happened. Have students write a creative writing piece on this topic from the point of view of a student their age.
  • Discuss with students the difference between invention and discovery.

Use the worksheets and class participation to assess whether the students have met the lesson objectives.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: All Problem Solving
Cluster: Instructional programs from kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving
  • Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts
  • Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems
  • Monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical problem solving

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Personal health
  • Characteristics and changes in populations
  • Types of resources
  • Changes in environments
  • Science and technology in local challenges

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

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: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines
  • Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: Science and Technology
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Technological design ability
  • Understand science and technology
  • Ability to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humans