Young Explorers – Lesson Plan
- Who are some of today’s young explorers?
- What can we learn from the example of young explorers?
- How can we be explorers?
- Each student will read about a young explorer.
- Students will discuss what qualities and characteristics they think make a person an explorer.
- Students will brainstorm ways they can be explorers.
- Students will spend time outside of class exploring their surroundings.
- Students will create and maintain a field journal of their explorations.
Time Needed: At least forty-five minutes, plus follow-up time on a different day
Grade Level: Middle School or High School
INTRODUCTION (5 minutes)
Introduce the idea to your students that most of what we know about the world around us was discovered and recorded by people who were curious about the world around them and who wanted to share their experiences and discoveries with others. We could use the word explorer to describe these curious-minded people whether they are naturalists, scientists, artists, mathematicians, philosophers, travelers, or adventurers.
There is still much to be explored in our world; we shouldn’t think that just because there are few blank spots remaining on world maps that all the questions are answered or that all the discoveries have already been made.
We also should not think that a person has to be “accomplished” in his or her field to make discoveries. Anyone with a curious mind, even a very young person, who actively explores his or her surroundings will make personal discoveries. These personal discoveries and the connection they create to the natural world are an important part of being a responsible steward of the world.
Looking at the examples of several young explorers can help us gain insights into characteristics and qualities that make a person an explorer. We can use these insights to learn how to become explorers of our world.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION (2 minutes)
Explain to the students that you will divide the class into groups of three students. You will then distribute a hand-out to each student that introduces a young explorer and includes some of that explorer’s written reflections on being an explorer. Each student should read his or her hand-out to the other two students in the group. As each student reads, the other two students should jot down key words that describe qualities and characteristics that explorer possesses or important decisions that explorer made that led him or her to becoming an explorer. Each group will then share with the class their favorite or best insights about what makes a young explorer.
CONDUCT THE ACTIVITY (25 minutes)
- Divide the class into groups of three. Distribute one “Young Explorer” hand-out to each student (note: there are more than three hand-outs, so you can choose which hand-outs are most appropriate for your individual students). Give the groups time to read and share. (10-15 minutes)
- Reconvene the class as one large group and ask each group to share its best or favorite insights about characteristics of the explorers to whom they were introduced and/or what they feel makes a person an explorer. Write key words and phrases from student responses on the white-board. (10 minutes)
SUMMARIZE AND DEBRIEF
Homework: If your students have not already suggested this concept, introduce the idea to them that they can be explorers as well. They can start by exploring their surroundings including their yards, neighborhoods, the school grounds, parks, and even their cities and towns.
Remind them that explorers share their discoveries with others by documenting their experiences and observations.
- Brainstorm with your students ways they could document their experiences of exploring the world around them (this could include photographs, sketches, journals, blogs, videos, audio recordings, a combination of these, or other ideas). Ask your students what positive outcomes could emerge from having a personal connection with their surroundings. If they do not suggest it, you might ask them if they feel that having a personal connection to their home region or for nature in general might make them more likely to care for it. 5 minutes
- Make an assignment that each student explore his or her surroundings and document their experiences and observations in a creative way.
Notes to the teacher:
- You can decide for how many days or weeks this project should continue, how many journal entries each student should have, and how the journal projects will be shared with the class.
- Remind students that any explorations should be undertaken with the knowledge and consent of their parents or guardians.
- At the conclusion of the journaling project, summarize and debrief the experience with your students. You might chose to ask:
- What insights did you gain from exploring?
- How did the act of documenting your experiences impact the experiences?
- How does it feel to share your experiences with others?
- Did you feel you developed any personal connection to their surroundings through their explorations and if so, does this impact your motivation to care for their surroundings?
- You and your students can follow the young explorers featured in this lesson as they travel with Will Steger on the Global Warming 101 Ellesmere Island Expedition. Follow the expedition at www.globalwarming101.com.