On This Day With Lewis and Clark

As evidenced by a popular PBS documentary and a best-selling book, the adventures of Lewis and Clark have captured the American imagination once again in the last few years. Why such a strong interest?

During much of their journey, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had no idea what they would encounter next. And, in a sense, that is how everyone lives every day. Even when we think we know what's around the corner, life can throw surprises at us. The story of Lewis and Clark is the universal story of human beings dealing with the unexpected. It's also great entertainment with a compelling cast of characters—an adventure, a road trip, a buddy story. It's about teamwork and failure and success. It brims with history and science.

Looking at historic maps of the West, students can begin to appreciate the immensity and mystery of the mission Lewis and Clark accepted. As "experts" investigating specific subjects assigned to Lewis by President Jefferson, students will conduct careful research. Reading brief diary entries of the men of the Corps will spark the interest of students as they relive the discoveries of the original participants.

Guiding Questions

How were the day-to-day experiences of the Lewis and Clark Expedition colored by a lack of knowledge about what the expedition members would face?

How did the expedition members fulfill the charge given by President Thomas Jefferson?

Learning Objectives

Describe some of the hazards faced by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Trace the journey on a U.S. map.

List some of the discoveries made on the journey.