The simultaneous study of Native Americans and science may seem to be rather difficult to employ. However, interdisciplinary connections are important for students, so that they can see the purpose of the work that they do. Therefore, assign students projects that will help them to see the connections between these two different disciplines.
Native American Moons
Help students form groups, or allow students to work individually. Assign each student or group a different Native American tribe to focus on, such as the Algonquins or the Omaha. Students' task will be to conduct research on the Internet and in the library to find out which calendar their assigned tribe followed. They will have to create a calendar mimicking the Native's calendar and explain to the rest of the class how that tribe developed its calendar.
Explanations of Natural Phenomenon
Assign students or groups of students different aspects of the Native American religions to uncover. For example, some groups could look at their explanation for the sun, while others could read about their reasoning for the abilities of certain animals. Have the students set up a comparison chart that shows the ways in which modern science accounts for certain natural phenomena as opposed to the ways that the Native Americans accounted for such occurrences.
Present a lesson that explains how the Native Americans would figure out where certain animals were based on their footprints. Provide the students with a handout with several different types of footprints. Their assignment will be to use the Internet and library books to discover which type of animal the footprints belonged to. Ask the students why they think these types of footprints were important for the Native Americans to track.
Purchase a natural dye set from an online source or a local teacher supply store. Read a story such as "Annie and the Old One" by Miska Miles. Use this story as a bridge to how the Navajo Indians used to color their wool with natural dyes. Discuss with students how chemistry is an important part of this coloring process. Allow the students to use the natural dye set to create their own representation of Native American art or decor.
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