Philadelphia Chapter Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

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Tredyffrin Middle School Students Major in Lewis and Clark Studies

Teacher and study unit head RoseMarie DeCoste of the Tredyffrin Middle School in Berwyn reviews digital photos with Inquirer photographer Tom Gralish at the 10th annual Lewis and Clark Exhibit. The 15 star/15 stripe flag carried by the explorers was a gift from our Chapter, along with 50 of the newest brochures available free to teachers (see story). Photo by Norma M. Milner

A popular exhibit put on by 218 8th graders at a Berwyn middle school recently marked the end of its 10th annual multi-disciplinary study of Lewis and Clark's Expedition.

A team of enthusiastic teachers led by RoseMarie DeCoste attacked the subject from the fields of history, art, music, language, biological sciences (plants and animals), math and celestial navigation, map making, environmental issues, and even cuisine. The home ec department supplied buffalo meatballs and buckwheat biscuits with fruit and honey toppings to parents and visitors.

The inclusion of math required getting a taste of trigonometry, said students manning that display, a subject usually not taught until high school. "Trig", they pointed out, was used to convert Lewis's celestial readings along the trail into global positioning on the map of the explorers' route that filled in the Western empty space on earlier maps of American latitude and longitude for the map made by William Clark.

Two tables of student "Journals" were a treat to the eye. They had covers of burlap, psuedo leather, and water soaked brown paper, (some of the real journals were soaked or even lost in the river journey), and held reports on 10 parts of the trip, taken from internet study.

The field of language gave the students a taste of the Latin that is used to describe the new animal and plant species found by the explorers, the techiques used in writing scientific and descriptive prose, French, Spanish, and Indian dialects heard on the journey, and the complicated translations needed for communication. The haphazard spelling of the explorers gave the unit added spice.

The newer field of electronics tied the show together. A lively video showing students at work on their "journals and other projects" played in the background, while a fiddle and piano played tunes of the times. The video was made by Social Studies teacher John Burns with the help of his students. Proud of all his students had accomplished, Dr. Steve Riggs is principal of the school.

Chapter Founder Frank Muhly and his wife Rose have been showing their slide show on Lewis in Philadelphia to students at the school for five of the ten years. Chapter member Norma Milner presented DeCoste with a 15 star/15 stripe flag which was immediately hung, as well as 50 copies of the new brochure called Lewis and Clark in Historic Philadelphia. Interested teachers may obtain a free packet of 50 brochures by writing to Frank Muhly, 3206 Disston Street, Philadelphia, PA 19149.

Updated January 14, 2003