Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and about 40 of their fellow Corps of Discovery members are famous for their expedition across the North American continent following the Louisiana Purchase in the early 19th century.
The explorers trekked by foot, horseback and non-motorized boat across 3,700 miles of largely unexplored terrain from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. The explorers had no map
Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, the expedition stretched from May 1804 to September 1806. Huntington High School students working with social studies teachers Fred Bisogno and Anthony Troffa and Erik Bruckbauer and Timothy Witt learned more about Lewis and Clark and their companions during their own “expedition” around the building and school grounds.
“We looked to link modern technology with 19th century events,” Mr. Bisogno said. “The kids are very adept at navigating and using their phones. Many of them did not even realize their smart phones have a compass feature, which we put to use on our mock expedition. They had a lot of fun and loved reading about the challenges that the Corps of Discovery faced.”
The route of the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 19th century.
The teenagers solved riddles to help them navigate to various locations during the expedition. “Once they arrived, they used their QR readers to scan a code that brought them directly to a primary source digital document on Lewis and Clark, which was used to answer questions,” Mr. Troffa explained. “They really had an appreciation and understanding of the difficulties that the Corps of Discovery faced, whether it was sickness, near starvation or the extreme cold temperatures, which our students actually faced themselves since Monday morning was in the 20s. They jokingly complained, but were excited to challenge themselves and learn more about a very interesting topic.”
Stops included the nurse’s office, where students learned about some of the medicines and treatments that were available during the early 19th century. “The students navigated to the cafeteria, where they learned that in desperate times the expedition members had to utilize one of their colts for food,” Mr. Troffa said. “To make the experience authentic, students were given beef jerky and we pretended it was horse meat.”
The students and their teachers enjoyed the expedition experience, “but most importantly they learned a lot of valuable information about the accomplishments of the expedition, such as finding a route to the Pacific Ocean,” Mr. Troffa said.
The idea for the expedition around the school tied to Lewis and Clark’s famous journey across the country was developed by Mr. Bisogno several years ago. “We finally put it in motion now that the technology is readily available,” Mr. Troffa said. “QR codes allow students to instantaneously access an exact webpage/document/video or whatever you link to the code, which saves a great deal of time.”
Messrs. Bisogno and Troffa planned and executed the student expedition with Messrs. Bruckbauer and Witt. “Students love to use their phones and we thought this would be an excellent way to embrace technology and let them have some freedom to explore,” Mr. Troffa said. “Students worked collaboratively to solve riddles, navigate, accomplish a task and discuss and share information to answer critical questions.”
As the teenagers made their way around the building and school grounds, they drew a lot of interest from other students and teachers, who were interested in what they were doing. That sometimes led to conversations about Lewis and Clark.
“Anthony always pushes the envelope with infusing technology into the classroom,” said Mr. Bisogno about his faculty colleague. “It is hard to keep up with him. He faces many classroom challenges and doesn’t get a lot of recognition for all of his efforts, but he does some awesome work. I learn a lot from him. All of our kids are lucky to have from him. He is a great story teller, too.”