Campus Archaeology and Public Outreach Part 2

Cowritten by Nicole Geske and Lisa Bright

Students at the Bennett Woods Elementary School Science Fair
Students at the Bennett Woods Elementary School Science Fair

In our last blog, we discussed some of the pros and cons of K-12 public outreach. On Wednesday, Campus Archaeology participated in the Bennett Woods elementary school Science Fair. This event was held for several hundred K-4th graders along with their parents, guardians, and other family members to participate in a wide-range of science activities.

We brought several hands-on activities, as well as many artifacts that Campus Archaeology excavated on campus. We brought our match the artifact game, which we’ve used at past events, such as Michigan Archaeology Day. This is like the card game memory, but here you match an archaeological artifact found at Michigan State University, such as an old medicine bottle, with its modern day equivalent.

 

Students play the artifact matching game
Students play the artifact matching game
Amy explains an artifact to a student
Amy explains an artifact to a student

We also brought a new game designed to explain stratigraphy where you place pictures of artifacts at appropriate levels. Additionally, we had an archaeologist’s tool kit, containing items such as trowels, brushes, and a screen to demonstrate how archaeology is actually conducted. Overall, the event was a success as we able to interact with a large number of children about archaeology and we received positive feedback.

A student plays our new stratigraphy game
A student plays our new stratigraphy game
Close up of stratigraphy game. Artifacts drawn by Katy Meyers
Close up of stratigraphy game. Artifacts drawn by Katy Meyers

Although we enjoy engaging with the public, it is still a significant investment of our time and resources. As members of the Campus Archaeology Program, we are also graduate students and it is often hard for us during the week to secure enough volunteers for these events. For example, on Wednesday we had five people and it was still difficult due to the large number of participants.

As we explained in our last blog, we’re now exploring the option of training teachers about how to integrate archaeology into their curriculum. After Wednesday’s event, it appears that this is the best route for Campus Archaeology. If we educate teachers, they will have the ability to continue to teach archaeology to multiple cohorts, making it a sustainable practice. Conversely, our ability to participate in these large events can be highly variable depending on the members of Campus Archaeology, as it may vary from year to year.

Therefore our next step is to create toolboxes that will function as mini-lessons. We discussed some options for these in our last blog and will update you with future progress.



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