Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Stonehenge: Solving Ancient Mysteries
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

How do we learn about the past? What clues help us piece together a picture of life long ago? In this lesson, students become detectives as they investigate a mystery at Stonehenge, featured on the Thirteen/WNET New York program, SECRETS OF THE DEAD: MURDER AT STONEHENGE. They learn about archeologists and anthropologists and the tools and methods they use to gather and interpret scientific evidence. They research current archaeological excavations and contact the scientists working at these digs. As a culminating activity, students advise a colleague on how to proceed with the excavation of a mysterious skeleton.

If you missed the initial broadcast in July, the SECRETS OF THE DEAD: MURDER AT STONEHENGE video can be purchased for $19.98 plus shipping and handling by calling 1-800-336-1917, or by writing to PO Box 2284, South Burlington, VT 05407.

Grade Level:
High School

Time Allotment:
This lesson should take approximately six class periods of 45-60 minutes in length.

Subject Matter:
Language Arts

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
  • Learn how scientific evidence is used to piece together an understanding of the past.
  • Gain an understanding of the work of archaeologists, anthropologists and physicists.
  • Gain an understanding of the tools that scientists use to study various forms of evidence.
  • Understand the importance of the way teams of people work together to solve problems effectively in undertaking scientific research.
  • Demonstrate their understandings of the scientific research process in different applications.

New York State Standards

Language Arts

Standard 3-Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation-Commencement

Listening and reading to analyze and evaluate experiences, ideas, information, and issues requires using evaluative criteria from a variety of perspectives and recognizing the difference in evaluations based on different sets of criteria.

Speaking and writing for critical analysis and evaluation requires presenting opinions and judgments on experiences, ideas, information, and issues clearly, logically, and persuasively with reference to specific criteria on which the opinion or judgment is based.

Math, Science & Technology

Scientific Inquiry

The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing, creative process.

  • ask "why" questions in attempts to seek greater understanding concerning objects and events they have observed and heard about.
  • question the explanations they hear from others and read about, seeking clarification and comparing them with their own observations and understandings.
  • develop relationships among observations to construct descriptions of objects and events and to form their own tentative explanations of what they have observed.
New Jersey Standards

Language Arts 20604eef4ae073988525669f005aee11/ 818c1b875575b70d8525661a005d9113?OpenDocument

New Jersey State Standard 3.4: All students will read a variety of materials and texts with comprehension and critical analysis.

Science e946d4c330474c4e852566a40026186d/ 7bcd2b45666844c985256691005d5dd7? OpenDocument

Standard 5.1: All students will develop problem-solving, decision-making, and inquiry skills, reflected by formulating usable questions and hypotheses, planning experiments, conducting systematic observations, interpreting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and communicating results.

Connecticut State Standards

Language Arts

Content Standard 1: Students will read and respond in individual, literal, critical and evaluative ways to literary, informational and persuasive texts.

Performance Standard: Generate questions before, during and after reading, writing, listening and viewing. Students will ask and answer their own and each other's text-related critical and analytical questions.

Content Standard 2: Producing Texts. Students will produce written, oral and visual texts to express, develop and substantiate ideas and experiences.

Performance Standard: Communicate effectively in descriptive, narrative and expository and persuasive modes. Students will identify and use effectively the salient features of all appropriate oral, visual and written discourse.


Content Standard 1: The Nature of Science Students will experience an inquiry-based learning environment in which they are free to ask questions, seek information and validate explanations in thoughtful and creative ways. Students also will understand that the processes, ways of knowing and conceptual foundations of science are interdependent and inextricably bound.
  • Conduct scientific investigations which generally involve the collection of relevant evidence, the use of logical reasoning and creativity in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the evidence
  • Identify and control variables in experiments; evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of claims, arguments or data
This lesson was prepared with Maureen Carroll.