The MSU Science Festival Expo Day was filled with hundreds, if not thousands of visitors! This year we decided to switch up a few things to try some new ways of reach audiences of all ages. Continue reading to learn about the new additions and …
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. Amy Michael is a biological anthropologist whose research examines the microstructure of human bones and teeth in order to address questions ranging from health and social identity in the ancient Maya to the effect of lifestyle factors on skeletal age. She is currently a …
For the past several years, the Capturing Campus Cuisine project has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and outreach opportunities between CAP and other MSU programs. Our partnership with MSU Culinary Services has resulted in a successful historic luncheon reconstruction and “throwback” meals with the MSU ON-THE-GO Food Truck.
Our latest collaboration is with the MSU Student Organic Farm (http://www.msuorganicfarm.org/) which was established to provide Michigan State University students with hands-on training in sustainable farming. It revives a tradition from the earliest days of the university, when it was known as the State Agricultural College, where students worked on the campus farms and gardens daily so they could put to practice what they learned in the classroom.
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 …
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 …
Here at CAP we think a lot about different ways of sharing our research. We can—and do—present at conferences, give public lectures, and publish site reports and journal articles. While these avenues are great for communicating our work to other experts, they are probably not the most effective ways of engaging the MSU community and the public. This blog is one way we communicate with the public about the campus heritage we uncover through our work. But how can we take this one step further and make the connection between campus heritage and campus space? One idea is to create an experience that turns MSU’s campus into a museum anyone can visit, with exhibits that not only showcase what we’ve discovered through archival and archaeological research, but also the processes involved in uncovering this knowledge.
The first iteration of this idea of campus as museum was msu.seum, a free mobile app that uses geopositioning to identify a user’s location on campus, point them to the nearest site of interest, and provide information on the history and archaeology of the site. Msu.seum was the outcome of collaboration between the Campus Archaeology Program, the Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) Initiative, and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Science. The app was first designed and developed as part of the 2011 CHI Field School led by CHI director and MATRIX associate director Dr. Ethan Watrall. Content for msu.seum was developed by Dr. Goldstein and former Campus Archaeologist Terry Brock.
For my CAP project I have been working to update and help build a Campus Archaeology mobile experience on a new and improved platform that alleviates technical issues with the original msu.seum app and offers exciting new features. The new platform we are using is mbira, an open-source tool specifically designed for building and managing location-based and mobile cultural heritage experiences designed by MATRIX. The site we are building in mbira can be accessed as an app for Android and Apple devices, on mobile web browsers, and as a browser-based web app.
So, what exactly will the new Campus Archaeology mobile experience look like? The site has three major levels of organization: locations, exhibits, and explorations. Locations are the most basic level of organization. They appear as pins on an interactive map and are tied to real locations, including past and present campus buildings and sites CAP has excavated. When a user selects a location pin, they are provided with a description of the site’s history, similar to an artifact label in a traditional museum. Unlike traditional museums, locations also include a “Dig Deeper” section exposing the archaeological research that helped generate knowledge about that location, as well as a comment section. Our hope is that eventually users will be able to participate in conversations with us and other users to ask questions, share reactions, and contribute to our knowledge of campus sites.
Exhibits provide one option for users to experience locations. Exhibits connect several locations together based on an underlying theme. To date, we have created five permanent exhibits for the mobile experience. Four of these correspond to eras in campus history including Beginnings (1855-1870), Foundation (1870-1900), Expansion (1900-1925), and Legacy (1925-1955). Our fifth permanent exhibit, Discovery, includes locations associated with CAP’s archaeological investigations from 2005 to the present. Explorations provide another way for users to experience locations. Unlike exhibits, explorations join together locations intended to be experienced in a particular sequence. This feature could be used to create a self-guided tour.
So far, my work on this project has primarily focused on building the permanent exhibits. Last semester I updated content previously featured on msu.seum with findings from new investigations. I have also created new content that reflects more recent field schools and sites excavated since 2011. I am now putting the finishing touches on the permanent exhibits including attaching historical photos from MSU Archives and photos of artifacts and archaeological investigations to each of the 27 locations currently added to the site.
As we develop this Campus Archaeology mobile experience, we are continuing to think of new ways to build and expand. We hope to create temporary thematic exhibits and explorations that can be featured at different times throughout the year. One idea is to highlight and connect current CAP research—including research on sustainability, food, and gender—to locations on campus. Another idea is to create a Halloween exploration to coincide with the Haunted Tour Campus Archaeology cohosts with the MSU Paranormal Society.
While this project is still in development, we are looking forward to launching the site soon. In March, Dr. Watrall will be presenting a beta version at the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries conference in a paper titled “Towards an Approach to Building Mobile Digital Experiences for University Campus Heritage and Archaeology.” He will also be presenting on building mobile experiences for heritage and archaeology in this invited lecture. Stay tuned for the full launch of the CAP mobile experience later this year!
Author: Mari Isa
Like Mari Isa, for this blog post, I will be talking about the outreach event that CAP ran for Holmes Middle School in Livonia, MI on Friday, January 19th. However, I will be discussing it from a different point of view. In Mari’s blog, she …