Saturday, November 5, 2016


Hello, it’s me Anne! I am once again completing an independent study this semester and here to tell you about our recent fun. On Thursday, October 20th, Genna and I ventured over to Lake Center Elementary School to spend some time with young students. The school hosted a family fun night that gave the students and their families an opportunity to learn more and spend time with one another. The event was titled “ I <3 STEM Night”. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Participants included engineers, MDOT, student clubs, the Kalamazoo Public Library, City of Portage and Home Depot among many others. Each participant group had a booth around the school at which they presented an interactive display involving their area of academia.

Explaining which artifacts belong in which soil layer to a young visitor.
(Photo credit: Genna Perry)
Genna and I represented the Western Michigan University anthropology department along with biological anthropology professor, Dr. Michelle Machicek and her graduate student, Anna Alioto. Dr. Machicek and Anna let the children look at casts of different bones of the human body and learn how to identify attributes such as sex, height, left versus right handed, and bone remodeling. Genna and I taught them about stratigraphy, or layers of soil in an archaeological context, and allowed them to color pictures of artifacts and place them in the layer that they thought it fit best. For example, we had a soda pop can as well as a Jesuit ring. We were able to explain how the Jesuit ring would have come from the 18th century and therefore, would have been in the occupation layer, deeper in the soil, whereas the soda pop can was a 21st century artifact and would have been in the alluvium or top layer of the soil. We also had our “recent artifacts” display case with us and it sparked interest among the kids as well as their parents. We got lots of questions about Fort St. Joseph, its location and its story. People were particularly curious about the artifacts, since many were foreign objects to them. For example, many people were unoamiliar with a broken crucifix and a mouth harp. I have come to realize that people of all ages confuse archaeology with paleontology. When we asked, “what do you know about archaeology?” various students would answer “you dig up dinosaur bones!” Having the recent artifact display case with us really helped to show them the difference. It was great to see parents getting involved with their kids and I hope they keep encouraging them to explore archaeology!

I had a blast getting to talk to kids about archaeology!
(Photo credit: Genna Perry)
We were able to meet and interact with a couple hundred kids and parents. It is always wonderful spending time with kids. I truly enjoy it and especially love their reactions to learning something they find interesting. Seeing a smile light up their face gives such a rewarding feeling. The night allowed for a memorable learning experience in so many aspects of science, technology, engineering, and math. Any opportunity to create a fun environment for students to learn is a successful one as well as the opportunity to spread knowledge about archaeology and Fort St. Joseph. We definitely hope to attend this event again next year!

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