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History of the Pittsburgh Legacy Lewis & Clark Education Site for Teachers

In 2001 the Pittsburgh Regional Center for Science Teachers (PRCST) initiated community wide participation in development of education plans related to the national Commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discover, seeking a waterway passage to the Northwest.

Early connections included working with the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, the Eastern Legacy – Army Corps of Engineers, the Reenactment crew (led by Scott Mandrel as Lewis), area organizations, and area educators.  NASA representatives also participated, viewing space exploration as an analogy to going into the unknown west.

To help educators link history and science, working across disciplines, PRCST planned and conducted a series of professional development workshops for teachers in grades 3-12.  The resulting lesson plans were designed by teachers to engage their student in an exciting and relevant event, helping them to attain the academic standards, and to make connections across disciplines.

To help educators link history and science, working across disciplines, PRCST planned and conducted a series of professional development workshops for teachers in grades 3-12.  The resulting lesson plans were designed by teachers to engage their student in an exciting and relevant event, helping them to attain the academic standards, and to make connections across disciplines.

With a focus on the contributions of the Eastern Legacy to this expedition and especially those of the Pittsburgh region, PRCST set about the development of a website that would showcase these contributions and also highlight the scientific aspect of the expedition.  This would set the site apart from the thousands of websites being developed that were related to the Commemoration and mainly focused on the entire expedition and trail west.  (Some of the teacher generated lesson plans can be found on the Education Page of the website.  Others are still under development.)

Working with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, the web site was put into place with with help from: 

  1. Baker Corporation
  2. Charles Greenberg (PRCST Board member and scientist)
  3. 99th Regional Command, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Historian
  4. Representatives from the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
An outstanding student designed the logo for the site as well.

Community Activities Included:
Each Saturday throughout August 2003, the education project was part of a wide program at the Pittsburgh Regional History Center, highlighting the re-enactment of the Voyage of Discovery by the Rooney family of Pittsburgh. This preceded re-enactment of the launch from Pittsburgh of the keelboat used in the national commemorative re-enactment the expedition. A replica of the keelboat was exhibited in the History Center parking lot for the summer. And Scott Mandrel, Lewis impersonator for the commemorative voyage, arrived on horseback from Monticello to meet all the teachers from the region who participated in the program.

Outstanding speakers, including author Gary Moulton, enriched the summer activities, and real Newfoundland dogs were also showcased on the August Saturdays.

Phipps Conservator and Garden Center hosted a workshop for teachers, and developed and extensive exhibit of the lewis and Clark expedition and the plants they saw on the trail.  The Carnegie Museum of Natural History hosted a special tour for teachers that focused on the animals encountered along the way.  A docent read from the original journals in front of each specimen case of displayed animals.  A related tour took teachers through the Native American exhibit.  Carnegie Science center developed a Planetarium show of the skies during the Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discover.

Rochester area in Beaver County hosted another camp site for the re-enactment crew as they traveled down the Ohio River. Multiple public demonstrations and activities took place, including many classroom tours for students.  Schools incorporated study of the expedition into their curriculum, calling on local impersonators and even one actual descendant of a crew member.  Activities were planned and coordinated by the Township Commissioner and representatives of Vicary House, an historical site.
 

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