Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Mary Ann Patten:
Clipper Ship Heroine

Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extensions -- Extending the lesson
Tips -- Managing resources and student activities.


Computer Resources:

You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

-- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
-- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
-- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MBs of RAM.
-- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 95 or higher.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.


Before you begin, bookmark the following sites:

  • U.S. America Clipper Ship Museum


  • Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning

  • National Maritime Museum


    Students should have some familiarity with the Internet and know how to use a Web browser.

  • In this activity students will gather information about the history and origin of clipper ships from the following U.S. America Clipper Ship Museum site:

    1. Divide the class into two groups. Group 1 should work at to gather information about the origin and the speed of clipper ships. Group 1 should use the problem/solution organizer.

    Group 2 should work at to gather information about how the dream of building clipper ships evolved. Group 2 should use this organizer.

    2. Each group should do a whole-group presentation to summarize the information they have learned about clipper ships.

    3. Conduct a whole-class discussion of the similarities and differences between the rise of the clipper ships and our present-day technological revolution of the World Wide Web. The following is a list of possible discussion questions:

    What characteristics do the men who created the clipper ships have in common with Silicon Valley's visionaries?

    Why was speed important in both cases?

    Why did the clipper ships disappear?

    Think of products that have become obsolete. What was the cause?

    What products have been invented in your lifetime?

    Have they changed? How might they change in the future?

    Do you think that the Internet is here to stay?

    What circumstances might occur that could spell the demise of the Internet?

  • In this activity students will read background information about Mary Ann Patten's trip in order to gain appreciation for the magnitude of her accomplishment.

    1. Richard Henry Dana (1815-1882) came from a wealthy Massachusetts family. He was a student at Harvard University until an illness forced him to abandon his studies. Seeking to regain his health, Dana signed on board a ship headed for California. Dana's book TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST is a detailed account of his ocean voyage. Read chapter 5, "Round Cape Horn." This book may be found in your library or on the following site: (Scroll down to chapter 5.)

    2. The students will work in pairs on a short project depicting Dana's voyage. Some possible choices include a diary, a collage, a skit, a musical composition, or a poem.

  • 1. Ask students to assume Mary Ann Patten's identity and write letters home to her family describing her life aboard NEPTUNE'S CAR.

    2. Provide time for students to share their letters with classmates.

    3. Post the students' letters on the school Web site, or share them with other classes.

  • The mission of the Shining Sea Foundation is to build, maintain, and display to the world an authentic, full-scale, classic American Clipper Ship and in the process to educate the general public about the design and sailing accomplishments of these yachtlike merchant vessels. Their faultless beauty, matchless speed, and unquestionable strength represented the apex of the Golden Age of Sail.

    1. Present the students with the following imaginary task:

    You are a member of the Shining Sea Foundation. Your goal is to get money from a wealthy foundation that is ready to give a several-million-dollar grant to a deserving organization. You must convince them to give the money to the Shining Sea Foundation. You may present your ideas in any way you want in order to reach your goal. Some possible suggestions include creating an art project, writing a song, writing a play, and publishing an article in a newspaper. Be as creative as you can.


    • Teachers may want to have students read Deborah Meroff's historical novel CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN. This book is based on the life of Mary Patten. Students could imagine that they are Mary Patten and write a journal entry after reading each chapter.

    • Students should visit a local maritime museum or take a virtual field trip to to study maritime history.


    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one group to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc. from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns. (Always have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer, in order to show them examples of what to look for.) When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. They can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked sites.

    You can also arrange the computers so that each is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three so they can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students