When COVID hit our campus, CAP was forced to rethink how we perform our community outreach. We needed new, innovative ways to engage and educate the public without requiring them to meet in large groups. One of the ways we did this was to transition …
Author: Amber Plemons
Campus Archaeology (CAP) has always been heavily centered around community engagement. We have several standing outreach events that we participate in every year, such as our annual Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Campus Tour, Grandparents University, various public-school events, and Archaeology Day at the Michigan History …
The Campus Archaeology Program has been hard at work this semester prepping for our collaborative event with Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan. The goal of this event is to teach young women about a career path in archaeology and award them with an archaeology badge upon completion. The badge program is entitled Digging Into the Past and is offered to scouts between ages 7 and 10 years. We aim to demonstrate the scope of archaeology and that there is more to archaeology than just excavation. We also want to teach them that professional archaeologists represent all genders, from various backgrounds, young and old.
The event has changed from its initial conceptualization. We initially planned for attendees to rotate through stations focusing on different aspects of field work: excavation methods, screening, field photography, map drawing, etc. However, we realized that most archaeologists spend approximately one to three months in the field (as much as they can get in during the summer) and the rest of the year is spent analyzing what they collected from the field or researching and on publishing on specific research questions. We want this to be accurately represented in out outreach events. So, we redesigned the event to reflect a typical day as an archaeologist as well as meet the Girl Scout guidelines for the badge.
To earn an archaeology badge, scouts must attend one of the two half day sessions and complete five activities (schedule below). These activities include:
- Creating a time capsule: Scouts will be asked to provide a list of items they would include in their time capsule. They are also asked to describe the container they would use and how well they think it will preserve. Finally, we ask them what they think someone will think of their items in 100 years when they capsule is recovered.
- Artifact identification: Scouts will have to identify and date artifacts using common archaeology lab reference materials.
- Museum curation: A presentation will be given to the scouts demonstrating how we curate different materials and artifacts in the laboratory setting.
- Ceramic reconstruction: Scouts will be provided with fragmented ceramic pots (clay planters) and asked to reconstruct the vessels.
- Learn a song from Michigan history: The scouts will end the day by learning a historic song that will portray the culture during historic Michigan.
We have included an interesting component to this event. There will be two longitudinal studies conducted to examine how outreach events can influence the perception of archaeologists and the understanding of our discipline. First, for the icebreaker activity, scouts will draw what they think an archaeologist looks like and to describe their archaeologists. These drawings are completed before the scouts are even introduced to the staff or any of the event content. We will then send out the same worksheets 30 days after the events and ask participants will be asked to redraw their archaeologists. We are particularly interested in if the demographics are skewed in any one direction, whether the artist’s drawing reflects their own identity, if fieldwork is more reflected, and if media influences their perspective (e.g. recent Jumanji movies and Indiana Jones).
This same process will be completed with the time capsule activity. Scouts will be asked to create a new time capsule worksheet 30 days after the event and being exposed to different aspect of archaeology and the types of research question in which we are interested. Here, we are interested to see if/how the scouts will change the narrative of their capsules after learning how well items preserve and what can be learned for them. We hope to see that the participants think more about what they would like people of the future to know about life and culture today after learning more about archaeology. Approval for both studies is currently being awaited from IRB. Upon approval, Campus Archaeology will publish the findings of these studies.
The Girl Scout event was scheduled for March 14, 2020 in East Lansing. However, given developments of COVID-19, we are postponing until a later date.Girl-Scout-2020-Itinerary-Final-1
Last Tuesday, November 12, 2019, Campus Archaeology hosted their first Open House. For two hours, Campus Archaeology opened our lab doors to the public. Campus Archaeology strives to have a standing relationship with the community through our numerous outreach events each year, as well as …
In our previous blog, Jeff Bennett introduced the concept of Open Archaeology and some of the ways that Campus Archaeology (CAP) is maintaining and furthering our position within the framework of Open Archaeology. One of the ways in which we plan to further our efforts …
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 unique opportunity to teach young girls a variety of components of being an archaeologist, while showing that girls like to get dirty too!
This event will serve a minimum of 50 girls from across the state of Michigan in a single day. We plan to host this event in two sessions during the day in order to better serve the Girl Scout Brownies (2nd and 3rd grade) with a more personal experience. There is potential for including more age groups at a later date after the program well-established. The event will be structured as half-day workshop with the girls circulating through a series of 5 stations focusing on different aspects of fieldwork, including excavation, field photography, mapping, artifact identification, and soil classification.
At the excavation station, attendees will learn to layout a grid, learn the importance of methodical excavation, and different techniques for digging a grid unit. Next, they will get to photograph artifacts while learning the importance and difficulties of lighting in the field and other critical features, such as using a scale and north arrow. The mapping station will allow the girls to draw hand maps of a grid unit, followed by the artifact identification station where the girls will learn to identify stone tools, pottery, and several historic artifacts. Finally, at the soil classification station, attendees will compare a series of soil samples to a Munsell chart to determine the soil color and determine the composition of the soil (e.g. clay vs sandy). Understanding the soil type and soil color variations within an archaeological site provide important clues for identifying features, such as fire pits, as well as informing preservation expectations of organic materials.
The structure of this event will also provide the members with opportunities to earn more than one badges in a single event, such as badges for photography and mapping. To earn the archaeology badge, the girls will complete five steps: 1) become an archaeologist, 2) interpret the past, 3) discover a new culture, 4) preserve history, and 5) share their story. These steps can be completed in a variety of ways, such as meeting a museum curator, learning to categorize, log, and store artifacts, going to a local archaeological site, doing research on an artifact, and many more.
Over the next several weeks, Campus Archaeology will be working closely with Bethany Wilson to finalize the “Digging into the Past” badge program. We will set a date and location for the event, which will appear in the new program manual released to all Michigan Girl Scout member families in March. We are very excited to see the design of the new badge and to educate the future women of archaeology.
Dr. Kate Frederick, a recent MSU graduate, worked with Campus Archaeology for two years, where she says she gained wide range of skills sets. She stated that though she had a decade of archaeological experience, there was a steep learning curve in the role of …
Michigan State’s Campus Archaeology program has provided fellowships for a number of graduate students in anthropology. These fellowships are awarded to enthusiastic, motivated students who are interested in gaining a unique learning experience. The fellows dedicate a lot of time and energy into conducting research …