The Bridge as a Connection

Why were the
bridges built?

The Bridge as Machine

How did they
build the bridges?

The Bridge as Art

Why do the bridges
look like they do?
  People of the Bridge
Who designed
the bridges?

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Lesson Plans
Language Arts and Social Studies

Exploration by Sea

Lesson Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:
  • Explain the factors that led the European explorers to the Pacific Northwest;
  • Describe the journeys of the major early seafaring explorers of the Pacific Northwest and explain the contributions made by each;
  • Explain the historical significance of Northwest place names;
  • Describe how the prevailing ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean led to the arrival of Asian ships in the Pacific Northwest a thousand years before the arrival of Europeans;
  • Analyze the significance of seafaring exploration in the Northwest;
  • Understand how competing claims in the region by various nations were resolved.

Time: 3-6 days or class periods, including 1-2 days research, 1-2 days preparing project, and 1-2 days presenting.

Materials Needed: Textbooks and books of other types, Internet access, white drawing paper, colored markers and pencils, rulers, boxlight for computer presentation such as PowerPoint.

Lesson Steps

1. Divide the class into five groups and assign each group one of the following nationalities: Spanish, British, American, Chinese, Russian.

2. Assign each group to research the explorations made along the West Coast of the North American continent by their respective countries.

3. Have the students create a profile of each of the explorers from their nation who came to the Pacific Coast. They should find as much information as possible about each of the explorers and discover what brought them to the Pacific Northwest.

4. Students should then prepare a map showing the route(s) of their country’s explorer(s) from their place of origin to the Pacific Coast.

5. Ask each group to create a visual depiction of the types of vessels used by their country’s explorers.

6. Finally, make sure each group can explain the impact of each country’s explorations along the Pacific Coast of North America.

7. When the students have completed their work, ask them to prepare a 10-minute presentation of their findings to the rest of the class using a method of their choice.


After the students have been working on their projects for a day or two, bring them together in a large group and ask them to help create a grading rubric. Ask them what attributes a top-quality project might have, and list those attributes on an overhead projector or white board. Possibilities might include:

  • Contains strong historical content;
  • Information is historically accurate;
  • Includes clearly detailed illustrations;
  • Well crafted map, carefully drawn;
  • Explains reasons explorers came to the West Coast of North America;
  • Describes explorers’ impact, including place names;
  • Well organized, neat, project has a professional appearance;
  • Colorful and creative;
  • Shows investment of time and effort;
  • Group displays strong presentation skills.

Evaluate each attribute on an appropriate scale based on your own school’s grading system, for example giving points or letter grades.
















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