Lewis & Clark Taxonomy - Lessons Learned in Philadelphia
Penn Wynne Elementary School - Lower Marion School District
Patty Erdos - Teacher
Grade 5

Understanding Taxonomy 
(A branch of biology, taxonomy, deals with classification and naming of living things.  This is what Lewis used on his journey.)
One goal of the Voyage of Discovery expedition was to identify new animal species that were seen along the way.  President Jefferson asked Lewis and Clark to gather information concerning the habitats, habits, and physical descriptions of these animals.


National Science Education Content Standards
A.  Understanding about scientific inquiry
G    Historical perspectives

PA Standards: Science and Technology
3.1    Unifying themes
3.2    Inquiry and design
3.3    Biological sciences


  1. Student teams display their classification objects with the dichotomous keys they have constructed and compare theirs with other student teams.  Each team then puts its objects back in one large group.
  2. Teams switch the key and items with another group and have them attempt to classify the items according to the key developed by the original students.


Cooperative learning

  • Teamwork
  • Small group work

Objects for classification –ex. Keys. Enough sets for each group of students.

Design a Dichotomous key.  Group of objects, ex.keys
  1. Record the name of the objects at the top of the paper. 
  2. Divide the objects into two groups
  3. Take one group of classified objects and set the other group aside for the moment.
  4. Divide the first group by two new characteristics.  Record the information.
  5. Continue dividing groups and recording information until all items are categorized.
  6. Go back to the other group that was put aside and repeat the process for the other items.
How a dichotomous key helps to accurately document specific objects/organisms.