Reflecting on MSU Science Fest

Dana working with a kid to sift dirt and find artifacts
Dana working with a kid to sift dirt and find artifacts

On Saturday April 13 and Friday April 19, Campus Archaeology participated in the MSU Science Fest. The goal of the event was to give kids a day of hands on experiences, demonstrations and lectures about science. Over these two days we were able to work with hundreds of kids of varying ages. We taught them about what we do as archaeologists and had ways that they themselves could experience being an archaeologist.

Our biggest and most loved activity was the sifting station. Here, kids would dig a big pail of sand out of a large black bucket that had numerous types of treasures within it. Once they had excavated the sand, they sifted it through the screen. All of the items they found were then cleaned off and they were given the chance to identify each These included items like plastic utensils and dinnerware, small plastic animals, beads, fake bugs, and plastic human bones. After they identified some of the ‘artifacts’ and talked about archaeology with us, we would give them a temporary tattoo that they could apply! Kids loved this activity so much that they would ask to do it again, or would come back later for round two.

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Our Profile Board, via Sylvia Deskaj

We had three other stations as well. One was a rock art station where kids could draw symbols, pictures and designs on rocks to create their own portable version of cave art. During the activity we chatted with them about what the pictures meant, what stories they told, and how ancient cultures used to do this. We also had an area where they could learn to sort items according to different variables. We had various beans that they could sort into different groups to come up with different classifications. Finally, we had a model of a stratigraphy to show what a profile looks like in the soil.

Getting to talk with a younger audience about our work can be difficult because you have to learn to simplify complex concepts, and answer different types of questions. It is a great exercise for us, because as Einstein once said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. It was a great and exciting new experience for us, and a wonderful way to share our work.

Author: Katy Meyers Emery

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