MSU Science Fest 2019: CAP at Expo Day

MSU Science Fest 2019: CAP at Expo Day

The MSU Science Festival Expo Day was filled with hundreds, if not thousands of visitors! This year we decided to switch up a few things to try some new ways of reach audiences of all ages. Continue reading to learn about the new additions and changes we made!


Screening for Artifacts Activity:

Jack B. teaching two visitors about screening for artifacts

Instead of using sand as we have done in the past, this year we used something new – ‘rubber dirt!’ Using this material allowed us to make less of a mess and, as the event was indoors, did not pollute the air with dust. We were lucky to be able to borrow this material from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, who used it during their screening activity for Michigan Archaeology Day this past fall.

In addition to the ‘rubber dirt’ – we also decided to switch up what type of artifacts could be uncovered in the screens. As we had two screens available to be used, we created two themed assemblages, one historic, the other prehistoric, for visitors to uncover. Artifacts included in these assemblages included 3D printed artifacts and replica artifacts, such as ceramic sherds and nails, to show items similar to what could be found on an archaeological site.

Once a visitor finished screening for artifacts, we asked them a few questions to start them thinking like an archaeologist! These questions included:
– Do you think this site is from 50 years ago or from 500 years ago?
– How do you think this artifact got buried in the dirt?
– What do you think this object is and what do you think it was used for?

This questions allowed us to talk about what we think about as archaeologists, and link to the idea that we always want to think about the people that used the artifacts in the past.


#ColorCAP Coloring Sheets:

Children coloring at MSU Science Festival Expo Day

This year we introduced a new activity, our #ColorCAP coloring sheets. These were especially nice to have if there were siblings of different ages, or if one sibling was not interested in participating in the screening activity. We had two areas available where kids could color, but they were also welcome to take a coloring sheet or two home with them instead!

Below you can download copies of the coloring sheets for your own use! Each coloring sheet is front and back and includes information about the artifacts included (i.e. what they are & where they were found). You can also download the coloring sheets under our ‘Publications’ tab. Please share your colored creations with us on social media using #ColorCAP!


Artifact Display Cases

Jeff B. discussing CAP artifacts

While we typically bring themed artifact displays for MSU Science Festival, this year we decided to change from the theme of the four periods of MSU history to everyday life during the early years of MSU. We had display cases that included items similar to those found in their own homes, which allowed us to connect visitors with MSU history. These cases included artifacts that would have been found in the dining area and bathroom of the first MSU dormitory, Saints’ Rest. The items we chose included many objects that we have never brought to outreach events before!

One of the crowd favorite objects was the chamber pot from the dormitory! Once we explained what it was used for, the kids almost always made the connection that they were very glad for modern toilets because they didn’t want to have to empty the chamber pots outside.

We also included several pieces of historic ceramic dishware which allowed us to talk to visitors about maker’s marks, a design usually placed on the bottom of an object that links it the manufacture and time it was created. This gave the visitor the chance to find the matching maker’s mark in the reference book and figure out how the age of the artifact!

In this photo you can see the base of a ceramic bowl with a makers mark, and the accompanying identification book behind that was used to identify it.


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