Archeology in the Classroom
Berrett, Jared, Bjornstead, Jennifer, Technology and Children
Students should become familiar with technology's cultural, economic, and political effects of on society. They should understand how technology has influenced the history of civilizations in their effort to become technologically advanced. Archeology is a science that can help students do just that. Archeologists spend their lives trying to learn about civilizations and cultures by looking at "features" and "artifacts" that have been left behind. These items are the actual technologies created by a specific culture. In this column we review some resources and suggest some easy ways to use archaeology as a basis to teach students to explore the technology of different cultures in an exciting hands-on approach.
Our favorite resources were children's books found in our local community library. From the numerous books we found, the three most valuable were: I can be an Archeologist, by Robert B. Pickering, Archaeologists Dig for Clues by Kate Duke, and Digging to the Past: Excavations in Ancient Lands by W. John Hackwell.
The book by Pickering (an archeology professor) has some great pictures of artifacts, ancient cities, and digs. He takes the reader on an inquiry-based journey, considering what artifacts and cultures an archeologist might investigate and how they might be studied. He also relates the type of schooling one would need to get into the field. It is a perfect introduction to the topic of archeology and should be read to the class. It is 30 pages long, with very large type and photos on nearly every page (fifth grade level).
The book by Duke is the story of an archeological dig, written and illustrated from a child's perspective. It is a great book to read to students to introduce them to the actual "dig" (fourth grade level).
Hackwell's book provides a great overview of archeology and includes information about how different artifacts are treated. It is 50 pages, written at a ninth grade level, with pictures or illustrations on every other page, and is an excellent teacher's resource.
Though there must be hundreds of teaching approaches to using archeology in the classroom, one of the most exciting is the prospect of conducting an actual archeological dig. (See the Tech Techniques section of this volume for a detailed description of setting one up.) Numerous spin-offs and connections can be made to this activity such as:
* Social Studies: Begin each social studies unit with an archeological dig. Bury artifacts from each culture you will be studying for students to unearth, document, and explore. …