Saturday, August 06, 2005

ARCHAEOLOGY FOR KIDS -- THE REAL THING!

"Kids are Scientist Too" Camp is sponsored by the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and the Connecticut Archaeology Center at UConn. This summer they have been conducting an archaeological investigation at the former site of an 18th century home on the university's campus. The home, that probably dates to about 1729, was burned to the ground as a training exrercise for firemen in 1976 after the university realized it would be far too expensive to repair --- but they didn't realize the historical value of the house.

The site, supervised by State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni, boasts a camp director, Cheri Collins, who has made the dig as realistic as possible for her students who range from those in grades five through ten. Just like real archaeologists, the students measure how deep in the soil they are digging, store their discoveries in labeled plastic bags, use precise digging techniques and record the weather and temperature in a notebook before digging each morning.

Mock digs (where instructors bury artifacts) that many archaeologists use around the country are just not as exciting. This is not only an educational exercise but the notes will go into the state's archaeology archives for future researchers to peruse. Kids are quoted as saying, "What I've learned is treasure doesn't have to be gold or a diamond... even a small nail can teach us a lot about history." Another kid got the idea as well: "If we threw away one piece of coal, it would be like throwing away history."

Need further info? Contact State Archaeologist Nick Bellantoni at nicholas.bellantoni@uconn.edu

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