Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Creating a Teacher Program

In an effort to broaden awareness of Fort St. Joseph, we have found it very important that we focus on developing an educational program. Targeting young students, as well as those at the collegiate level, will spread knowledge about the fort as well as deepen understanding about its cultural heritage. Collaborating with schools is sure to be promising, as teachers and young adults have been attending summer camps at FSJ since 2002, and showing great interest. The WMU archaeological field school has been successful in gaining the interest of college students since 1998.

An example of "artifacts" in our trash bag activity
Currently, we are working to develop a teacher program that we can share with Berrien County as well as the surrounding counties in southwest Michigan. We have had success with a trash bag activity where we present students with a sheet listing present day “artifacts” (common household garbage) in separate bags, and ask them to tell us where they think these items are found. After experimenting with this activity at a recent Career Cruising event and meeting with Sue Reichert (a graduate student focusing on similar topics) and Elspeth Inglis (Assistant Director for Programs at Kalamazoo Valley Museum), we have decided to alter the activity a bit and present physical bags with actual items. Children are often more responsive to activities where they can engage “hands on.” Both Sue and Elspeth agreed that it would be wise for us to cater to the students in that sense, as well as ask more questions that will challenge the students to think “outside of the box” and independently. If any educators are reading this and are interested in learning more about this program, please check back frequently with our social media pages. We will be sure to update you all with of our progress!

-Anne Volpe