Monday, September 24, 2007

It was early...I was (admittedly) a mite groggy, and I was fighting to stave off gradeschool flashbacks as we pulled through the front gates of Fruit Cove Middle School last Friday morning. Things were different this time. We were here (myself, Sarah and her father) to meet with a group of middle school students (a mixture of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, as it turned out) to talk about archaeology and partake in the legendary Penut Butter and Jelly Activity, not to get swirlies or have our lunch money stolen by the older kids on the Pop Warner football team...not that ever happened to me in middle school....

We set up shop in one of the rooms and started out with a powerpoint and general explanation of archaeology for the students. Then we started the PB & J activity -- where Ms. Catherine Bavuso provided individual mini-containers of Jif peanut butter for each student - much to the awe and wonderment of Sarah and I. It turned out to be the perfect amount of peanut butter for each student. Take THAT Peter Pan!

The activity is designed to simulate a miniature archaeological site that the students can "test" using methods similar to those talked about in the lecture. Peanut butter and jelly are spread onto the bread and an assortment of sprinkles are added (representing artifacts on an archaeological site). The sandwich is put together then pierced in three places with a straw - this is the post-hole survey, and students can actually see the stratification in the straw. Based on the amount of artifacts (sprinkles) observed in the post-hole survey, the students decide which quadrant of the sandwich to "excavate." The decided quadrant is cut off from the sandwich and the profile is observed with the artifacts visible in with the peanut butter and jelly strata. I feel like the activity went well and the students seemed to enjoy it. It really helps to actualize the information and photographs that are presented in a slide show/ lecture. I also enjoyed this run of the PB&J activity - a student named Dalton was called away for a doctors appointment after constructing a particularly tasty sandwich...hope it wasnt anything contagious!

We had a great time at Fruit Cove Middle School and really enjoyed the chance to teach the kids there about archaeology, answer their questions and provide the PB&J Archaeology activity for them. Hopefully we'll be seeing them all again at some more outreach events in northern St. Johns County! And that's the Dirt for today.
-Matt Armstrong

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