My previous posts this semester have focused on Campus Archaeology’s involvement in community and educational outreach and the pros and cons of these types of activities. Last Friday, members of Campus Archaeology gave an in-school presentation for MSU Science Festival at East Olive Elementary in…
Cowritten by Nicole Geske and Lisa Bright 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…
Co-written by Lisa Bright and Nicole Geske
Campus Archaeology participates in community education and outreach when possible, especially when we are specifically asked. But, with limited resources and time, we can often only accommodate large educational or MSU sponsored events. Therefore we find ourselves debating what is the best use of our time in terms of our educational programs and outreach. In other words, how can we get the most “bang for our buck”, while still providing quality education to the community?
Lately we have been weighing the relative advantages and disadvantages of working one on one with groups of children, versus supplying teachers with educational material that allows them to conduct educational programs. Participating in larger class room, or school wide, events requires the scheduling of several campus archaeology fellows to lead the activity, as well as transportation and travel time. Although we are happy to personally conduct educational workshops, creating educational packets for teachers to use (and re-use) may allow campus archaeology to have a bigger impact, while getting across many important concepts.
Other archaeological programs and institutions that offer educational and outreach opportunities to children have developed the use of “toolboxes.” These boxes contain materials that can be loaned out to interested individuals, teachers, or other educational programs. They also revolve around specific themes and contain information for teachers and students, lesson plans and activities, and actual artifact materials. Through researching this type of community engagement, we believe that CAP and our neighboring community would benefit from us creating toolboxes such as these.
Our goal is to develop material and resources for specific age groups, or grade levels, that revolve around Michigan’s past. We plan to have multiple boxes that focus on specific archaeological cultures, such as Paleoindian, Archaic, and Woodland. We will also have boxes that will demonstrate how archaeologists excavate and analyze artifacts.
Also, because of Campus Archaeology’s mission for archaeology at Michigan State, we will have a box that focuses on the University, its history, and what it means to be a Spartan! The connection the community has to MSU goes deep, and creating easily usable educational material that connects something so well known in the community with archaeological concepts provides a unique educational opportunity.
As we work on creating these toolboxes, we would love to hear your suggestions! Additionally, in a few weeks campus archaeology is participating in a local elementary school’s science fair, and we will be testing some new interactive activities that could be scaled down for the teacher’s toolbox. We will also be posting follow up blogs throughout the semester to document the creation and implementation process.
This past weekend Campus Archaeology took part in Michigan Archaeology Day. Every year the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), in conjunction with the Michigan Historical Center, hosts Michigan Archaeology Day at the Michigan Historical Museum. Michigan Archaeology Day is not only a day to celebrate…
Greetings gentle readers. I have admittedly procrastinated the writing of this blog post. In my procrastination, I stumbled upon a buzzfeed.com post (link below) referencing a recent interview with actor Nick Offerman in which he was asked about his preplanned funeral arrangements. His brilliant response…
We were excited once again to be a part of Grandparents University at MSU, an opportunity for grandparents and their grandkids to take classes, live on campus, and experience college life for three days. It is a great chance for us to interact with different age groups, and it gives them the chance to learn more about MSU’s history through physical remains of its past. We have participated in the event for a number of years. Some years the participants have been able to wash artifacts like the bricks found at Beal Street, or get to see an actual dig in progress, sometimes they’ve gotten the chance to watch how a full pot becomes broken artifacts, and last year they were able to make their own pottery to take home.
This year we started off day one by doing a class on what archaeology is and what Campus Archaeology does on MSU to protect its historic and prehistoric heritage. We followed this with a tour of North Campus, talking about the historic buildings, burned and raed buildings underneath the ground, and some of the interesting fact we’ve learned from doing archaeology- like that the remains of College Hall were used to build up the riverbanks to prevent flooding!
During day two, the participants got the opportunity to interact with real artifacts we’ve found on campus. They played games to match historic artifacts with their modern counterparts, like matching ketchup bottles and hairstyling tools. They also learned about stratigraphy and were able to place artifacts into a mock soil stratigraphy based on what they thought was older. Finally, we had a station where they could examine different artifacts we found on campus and try to identify what types of contexts they came from, like test tubes and compasses from a school room or cups and glasses from a kitchen.
It was a lot of fun getting to engage with this diverse group. We truly enjoy our time spent with the participants of Grandparents University, and hope that they learned something about MSU’s past and archaeology in general. We look forward to next year!