Over the past couple of months, Campus Archaeology has been in communications with Girl Scout Regional Program and Event Specialist, Bethany Wilson, to develop an archaeology badge for girl scouts across Michigan. We are elated about our new partnership! These annual events will be a […]
Those who follow us know that outreach is a big part of what we do in the Campus Archaeology Program. Every year, CAP participates in several public outreach events including Michigan Archaeology Day, Grandparents University, ScienceFest, and more. These events are important because it gives a chance talk to people in our community and raise awareness about what archaeologists do and why this work is important. We can also raise awareness of our program and show people that archaeology is everywhere – even in our own campus backyard.
One of the most effective ways to engage people at these events is through fun, eye-catching educational activities. In the past we have had success with an artifact memory matching game. This month, however, CAP has been working to create a new outreach activity. Here are some steps in our thought process as we developed this new activity:
Step 1: Talk to our colleagues
CAP fellow Susan Kooiman helped put us in touch with Elizabeth Reetz and Chérie Haury-Artz at the Iowa Project Archaeology Program, who gave us some great ideas about activities they’ve used at their public outreach events. This was enormously helpful because it allowed us to consider activities that have already been field-tested for success.
One activity that appealed to us involved having participants place artifacts on a simplified stratigraphic map in order from most to least recent.
Step 2: Consider our goals
When we attend public outreach events, one of our goals is to create interest in the Campus Archaeology Program. Therefore, we wanted our activity to showcase some of things CAP encounters on campus. Another goal is to educate participants about archaeology. As such, we wanted an activity that gets people thinking like archaeologists.
The stratigraphy activity meets both of these goals. For one, this activity introduces a key concept in archaeology in a simple, visual manner. We can make it relevant to CAP by choosing artifacts we have actually found on MSU’s campus and creating a stratigraphic profile reflective of what we encounter on campus.
Step 3: Think about logistics
The best way to learn is by doing. As much as we’d love to give participants a chance to do an excavation, this is obviously impractical. Therefore, we had to consider several factors to develop a reasonable activity. One factor is time. In order to reach as many people as possible, we wanted to develop an activity that can be explained and done relatively quickly. Another factor is space. We wanted to build the activity such that it can be adapted to a small space if necessary.
The stratigraphy activity fits both of these needs. Most participants should be able to place 3-5 artifacts in under a minute. This will prevent long lines and allow many people to participate. We are also designing the stratigraphic profile specifically so it fits on a standard tabletop. This will allow us to have two or more stations going at once, depending on the amount of space we are provided at an event.
Step 4: Think about design
The design of an activity is also important to consider. One factor we considered is durability. We wanted to build our activity to withstand some wear and tear. For this reason we decided to make our profile out of felt, which is less easily ripped than paper and can be folded for storage. We are also using laminated photos of real artifacts so that everyone—CAP volunteers and participants alike—can enjoy the activity without fear of breaking the physical objects.
Another factor we considered is participants’ abilities. People of all ages attend these events, so we wanted to design an activity that is suitable for young children but that can also be adapted to appeal to older attendees. As such, we tried to select a variety of items that will allow us to provide participants with an appropriate challenge.
Step 5: Build the new activity
This week we selected and photographed artifacts from the CAP Lab to use for the activity. Our next step will involve sewing the stratigraphy map together based on our hand-drawn design.
Step 6: Debut at Michigan Archaeology Day!
Come check out our new activity for yourself! We plan to debut our new activity at Michigan Archaeology Day. This event will take place from 10AM to 4PM on October 13th at the Michigan History Museum.
This summer was an eventful one for the Campus Archaeology Program field crew! We monitored construction, conducted several pedestrian and shovel test surveys, excavated one test unit, conducted lab analysis, and helped with the IB STEM archaeology camp and grandparents university. Plus, we uncovered an […]
History is fleeting yet enduring. We hardly ever realize that we are making it, but the remnants of our historic actions can sometimes remain long after they are done. Things casually jotted down, random papers and notes tucked away—these are items we don’t realize that […]
As students begin to file out of campus, the orange cones start lining up as a sign of the upcoming summer construction projects. This will be my second summer as Campus Archaeologist and I feel much more prepared this year to expect the unexpected. We’ve been researching in the archives for the past couple of months to make sure we are prepared for every historic feature that may be potentially disturbed throughout the summer. While last year I was caught off-guard with our early discovery of the first Vet Lab, this summer I have a full crew on deck and historic maps in my pocket, so we’re ready to tackle the summer.
The main summer construction project that will occupy CAP is the Phase 4 (final phase) of the North Campus Infrastructure Improvements, or the West Circle steam tunnel renovations. This project will occur in the area between the MSU Museum, Olds Hall and the Library, a very old part of campus. There are three historic buildings that will most likely be affected: the first Williams Hall, the second Wells Hall, and the mechanical engineering shops. CAP is working closely with Granger Construction to insure that we have time to properly survey these areas, and if necessary excavate.
If you’ve been following our blog you know that the second Wells Hall, built in 1916, was torn down in the 1956 to accommodate the new library. Part of the footprint of the second Wells Hall is under the Library’s east parking lot. This parking lost is slated to be torn up and resurfaced, so CAP can sneak in during this process and shovel test. When we shovel test for Wells Hall we want to see if any of the foundation is buried, or if it was completely removed when is was razed. Also, we’re hoping to find artifacts that tell us about the early days of dorm life at MSU.
A new area that we haven’t surveyed too much is the area of the mechanical engineering shops. These shops would have been located to the east of Olds Hall and used for the mechanical engineering program. Associated with the mechanical shops was the power plant, built in 1884, to provide steam forced heat for the university. Previous research on the history of MSU’s power plants indicated that at its inceptions, MSU students were required to feed the coal burning power plant. This adds an interesting element to the potential archaeology of the area since student activity and use of the area was mandatory in order to keep the university heated.
Finally, the West Circle steam tunnel renovations may disturb the foundation of the original Williams Hall. Williams Hall was built in 1869 and burned in 1919. This building housed 80 students and the basement was the cafeteria that fed the university for decades. CAP found a cornerstone of Williams Hall back in 2009, so we know the foundation still exists.
We’ll keep you updated as the construction gets underway.
In a couple weeks, from April 15 to April 18, the Society for American Archaeology Annual Conference will be occurring in San Francisco, CA. There is going to be great representation of members of Campus Archaeology and the MSU Anthropology Department. Daggett, Adrianne  SYMPOSIUM: […]
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 […]
This coming Thursday CAP has a meeting with MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF) and Granger construction to discuss the upcoming summer construction projects. Most importantly, Phase 4 (final phase) of the North Campus Infrastructure Improvement, a.k.a the steam tunnel project. This project began in the summer of 2012, in an effort to upgrade the 100 year old steam tunnels. CAP has worked closely with this project because a) it is taking place in the heart of historic campus, West Circle; and b) it gives CAP the opportunity to explore huge areas of buried MSU.
Unfortunately, this project is quite destructive to any potential archaeology, so my job is to do the proper research so CAP can preemptively excavate, or at least be prepared for any findings. Last summer, during Phase 3, you may recall that CAP discovered the foundation of the original Vet Lab, built in 1885. This discovery caught us off guard, and though we were able to hold off construction so we could excavate, it was not an ideal situation. I’ll be much more prepared this summer.
IPF always gives us the construction blueprints, which detail every aspect of the construction process. From digging the 30ft deep steam tunnels to tree removal, these plans allow CAP to make a game plan for how we’re going to approach the construction, i.e. simple shovel testing or full excavation. For Phase 4, the final steam tunnel replacements will cut across Olds Hall and towards the MSU Museum. I’ve been compiling historic maps and photos to see if any of these cuts will impact historical features. Currently, I’ve discovered three potential structures: the Vet Lab, the Mechanical shops, and the original steam tunnels. The steam tunnels are too deep for us to shovel test or excavate, so we can only monitor until something is found. Most likely, we’ll shovel test beforehand to determine if the remains of the Vet Lab and Mechanical shops will be disturbed.
At the upcoming meeting on Thursday we’ll explain our findings, and our concern for the possible destruction of these historic features, then we’ll create a strategy that allows for archaeology, but does not severally inhibit the construction. IPF and Granger understand the significance of the cultural heritage of MSU and are always willing to accommodate our archaeology.
In addition to the steam tunnel project, there are a handful of other construction projects occurring on campus this summer. MSU’s campus is constantly being renovated and upgraded to accommodate the ever-growing university. It is CAP’s goal to discover and disseminate the history on which MSU has built its name.
Campus Archaeology is proud that we can give undergraduate students at MSU such an intensive, hands-on experience in archaeology. Our interns are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in every aspect of archaeology, from the research, to the lab work, all the way to full-scale […]