Exploring History with Lesson Plans

Canal and Power Lines

Historical exploration can take many forms.  If you are a member of the Discover Club, you can download our ebook on one approach.  However, before we can enjoy historical exploration we must have some appreciation for the history that is all around us. The National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation have partnered to develop a new tool to help teach children, and adults for that matter, how harnessing the power of water transformed the West.

The Electric Project

Homesteaders Home on the Minidoka Project

Homesteaders Home on the Minidoka Project

“The Electric Project: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant”, is a new “Teaching with Historic Places” online lesson plan. The curriculum provides information about how the Bureau of Reclamation harnessed the raw power of rivers to provide water and electricity to thousands of Western homesteads and towns in the early 1900s. The lesson plan is freely available at the Park Service’s website.

In the lesson, students will learn how the Bureau of Reclamation built dams and powerplants to irrigate the arid West for settlers in the early 1900s, eventually providing them with a luxury of the era — electric power. This lesson provides information about settlement along the Snake River in Idaho and how irrigation allowed people to farm “reclaimed” land. Students will also investigate how hydroelectric power is generated and how technological advances, like electricity, changed and continues to change Americans’ lives and lifestyles.

Teaching with Historic Places

“The Electric Project” is the 160th “Teaching with Historic Places” online lesson plan. This National Park Service series uses places listed in the National Register of Historic Places to enrich traditional classroom instruction and other educational programming in history, social studies, civics, and other subjects. The Teaching with Historic Places website indexes the lessons by states, historic themes, time periods, learning skills, and history and social studies standards to help teachers incorporate them into curriculum.

To get started, go to the state-by-state index of lesson plans to find a place to explore near you.  Learn about the place with the study plan and if you have kids,  guide them through it.  Then, set out on an adventure to experience that piece of history in person.

Preparing for Historical Exploration

These lesson plans are a great way to discover and learn about something historic in your area.  Each of these plans address a topic for which evidence of history still exists.  Whether the topic is The Minidoka Dam and Power Plant, The Soldiers at Gettysburg, The Lewis and Clark Expedition or any of 157 other topics you have an outstanding place to start your historical exploration.

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