4. Human Adaptive Physiology

(This is the Lesson Plan 4 for Carmelita Lamb’s curriculum unit, Tribal Legacies of Pathfinding.)

Grade Level: High School grade 9-10



Aligned with appropriate Common Core State Standards (grade level and content area)

CCS.English Language Arts>Science and Technical Subjects G 9-10

  • RST.9-10.2 “Determine the central ideas of conclusions of a text…”
  • RST.9-10.4 “Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain specific words and phrases…”
  • RST.9-10.9 “Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources…”

Students will

  • Review the Lewis and Clark journals from May 1804 to September 1806 and plot the temperature entries which would pose physiological problems for the people on the expedition.
  • Document the events that occurred along that Trail that posed physical distress to the expedition (for example, on Wednesday April 24, 1805 Meriwether notes that the wind is so fierce that water is brought onto the boats and the men complain of painful eyes), and draw inferences as to the cause of human physical discomfort.
  • Describe how the explorers dealt with the physical difficulties they encountered.
  • Compare how Lewis and Clark’s group dealt with the environmental and physical hardship to how modern camping have made these conditions more bearable.
  • Develop a chart which shows 10 items brought along on the expedition by both Lewis and Clark as well as their tribal companions and the modern counterpart to that piece of camping equipment.
  • Plot along the timeline the specific areas where journal entries are most compelling with regard to human physical effort and provide a brief summary of the incident and how the explorers were able to cope.



  • What are examples of environmental conditions that can be potentially dangerous to human survival?
  • How have survival techniques changed since the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition?
  • Are there some situations today that have not changed since the time of the expedition with regard to human physical risk?



  • Visual
  • Tactile
  • Spatial
  • Linguistic
  • Multimodal

Refer to the Spiral Learning Map (Appendix A): includes explicit teaching strategies, specific questions, comments, and directions for use by teachers.



Depending on the age group in which this lesson is presented (9th grade general Biology or 12th grade Advanced human anatomy/physiology), the lesson may need to be modified to meet the needs of all learners in each phase of the learning experience (researching the biology of the human body, thermoregulation, disease immunity, dietary influence on physiologic homeostasis)>.



Of all of the Teachings thus far presented, perhaps this one speaks to the spirituality of the experience most directly. The students will begin to understand how the very nature of the human spirit propelled this band of travelers across the northwest to the Pacific Coast. Students will be asked to deeply reflect upon what they have learned through the Honoring Tribal Legacies curriculum and voice their understandings of how the timeline was a multilayered assessment of their extensive research and interpretation of this event.



As the multidimensional story of the expedition has now been fully embraced, students will appreciate each tribal nation along the Trail and the contribution of each tribe to safe passage. No longer is the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition a one sided tale that is merely of Manifest Destiny, but rather a historical story of first contact between two sovereign peoples.



  • Four Cornersfor linguistic learners
  • Choral Responsefor auditory learners (brain-based techniques)
  • Inside-Outside Circlefor kinesthetic learners
  • Flow Mapsfor visual learners



Student proficiency in researching various sources, making comparisons between human physiology in 1804-6 and today, and drawing conclusions with regard to the differences noted and possible explanations for these physiologic changes (diet, environment, disease, lack of basic resources).



Students will gain a deeper understanding of the physical limitations and capabilities of the human body.



  • Student continue to add their new found knowledge to the original timeline.
  • Students will be asked to create short films (interview, narrative, soliloquy) that will reveal their personal reactions to the ‘journey’ they have made in learning the historically equitable story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through Honoring Tribal Legacies. This will capture the sentiments of the students in their engagement of this deep learning process and provide valuable feedback to educators for future modifications of the Pathfinding curriculum.



In this lesson, perhaps the greatest use of primary sources is in the development of a base knowledge in the physiological limitations of the human body. By researching the Lewis and Clark journal entries, students will discover how remarkable it was that none perished along the way except for one in the first weeks in South Dakota. Share general advice drawn from personal stories about collaborating with tribal communities, medicine people, berry gatherers, root diggers, harvesters of sage and cedar; particularly with elders and traditional cultural bearers often sought out to present in classes.