Happy October! We hope everyone is doing well and is staying safe! Things are definitely looking a little different here this fall, as MSU has made the decision to stay remote for the entire semester. As our director, Dr. Camp, mentioned in her blog post …
Tag: MSU Museum
Happy Halloween! Yesterday we hosted our 5th annual Apparitions & Archaeology: A Haunted Campus Tour. For this year’s tour, we decided to change several of the stops and the MSU Paranormal Society added stories from their investigations of each area! If you weren’t able to …
On Saturday, February 22 we held another session of Dig the Past at the MSU Museum. I was pleased to have had the opportunity to promote the program the day before on WLNS/ Channel 6’s local morning news show via a live interview with Francesca Amiker at the museum.
Prior to Saturday’s workshop, Erica (another grad student who has joined Dig the Past) and I had put together a small “teaching collection” of artifacts from a few sites around campus, such as Saints’ Rest (which is located right outside of the museum where the workshop is held). I wanted visitors to the program to be able to actually touch and interact with pieces of our school’s past (although of course we had to select items that were not one of a kind, just in case they were damaged during the workshop). The teaching collection was the only new addition to Dig the Past that I had planned for Saturday, as I wasn’t sure what direction I should be going in now that we’ve developed several working activities for the program (and quite honestly, I’d run out of time before the big day!). I haven’t read through all of the feedback forms yet, but my hope is that this added a more campus-oriented dimension to the program.
Our attendance on Saturday, perhaps in part because we promoted the workshop on a different venue than normal, had a higher contingent of adults than usual – multiple adults showed up with the groups of children, and more than the usual number of adults-only groups showed up as well. Given the space and budget constraints I’m operating under (as well as the fact that this is my first time running such a program, and as a side project to my main “job” of dissertating), I’m always aware of the need to balance the information and activities we offer to meet the interests and abilities of our visitors. The high majority of active participants thus far has been youth under the age of 12, and we have found that it is most helpful to formulate very specific, clear, repeatable messages that are reinforced by every activity.
However, this isn’t the most effective way of communicating to adults who come in with some knowledge of prehistory, even if they’re not familiar with archaeological methods or theory. I talked to multiple adult visitors who expressed a wish to see more complex activities such as demonstrations of real excavation techniques. I knew there wasn’t much we could do that day to bring such aspects to the program, but I asked those visitors to provide written feedback on what they would like to experience. I am finding that running a program like Dig the Past is a process of constant evaluation and learning, as well as planning and reconceptualizing for the future. This series of workshops will conclude in April, but I intend to take the experience that I have gained from doing this project forward in my career. I hope to continue working on educational programs like Dig the Past in some capacity, because for as many challenges that are involved, there are even more rewards. I think that the stronger our relationship with the Greater Lansing community, the stronger will be their support for all aspects of Campus Archaeology’s work, from research to teaching to engagement.
This past Saturday on October 12th the Michigan Historical Museum hosted Michigan Archaeology Day. Colleges, organizations, companies, and academics from across the state came to present lectures and exhibits that showcased the wide range of archaeology all over Michigan. CAP presented “Dig the Past,” an …
On Saturday, September 21 we hosted our first session of ‘Dig the Past: A Hand-On Introduction to Archaeology’ at the MSU Museum. A great time was had by all! Here’s a rundown of some highlights from the day:
- 28 visitors, ranged in age from 17 months to 58 years, signed in. Most of the active participants were children ages 4-7 who were accompanied by parent/ guardians, though we did have a few adults who were enthusiastic to join their young family members in some of the activities.
- Eight families filled out anonymous feedback forms – most were written collaboratively by a parent/ guardian from the child’s perspective. We included questions on the forms such as ‘What was your experience with archaeology, if any, prior to today?’; ‘Was there anything that really surprised you?’; and ‘Would you like to see anything changed or done differently?’.
Here’s some of the interesting feedback we got:
- Prior experience in archaeology ranged from ‘None’ to ‘My family hosted a team of archaeologists each summer for several years’.
What really surprised our visitors included:
- ‘How tedious archaeology is’
- ‘How hands-on it was and how friendly and knowledgeable the staff was’
- ‘You can find big things’, and
- A hand-axe that looked like one my father had, that I had assumed was a tourist-sale fake.’
Some things our visitors would like to see changed or done differently included:
- ‘More adult-level offerings’ and ‘Find more things’.
From 1-10, all visitors who provided feedback ranked their experience as a 9 or 10.
One of the most interesting insights from the feedback forms was learning which activity engaged each learner the most. We asked them to tell us what they enjoyed most about the day’s activities, and not everyone answered ‘Digging’ (although several did, of course). One visitor said the ‘computer analysis’ [digital microscope] was their favorite; while others mentioned sifting or handling artifacts, and a couple said that they loved it all. This concurred with my impression of the activities as they were occurring: different children seemed engaged by different aspects depending on their age, interests, and learning style.
Looking forward to the next session, the facilitators and I agreed that it would be useful to incorporate some of the visitor suggestions, and we will be working on doing that over the next few weeks. But the activities that we did have not only met the learning criteria I had set forth but also created a fun experience for everyone involved.