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Saint Augustine, Northeast Florida
Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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Archive for September 2007

Back to School

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

Soggy Middens

Today I visited the Timucuan Preserve office at the Fort Caroline National Memorial for a presentation by Dr. Keith Ashley, hosted by Preservation North Florida.
My shoes are still drying as i type this.

Driving I-95 through Jacksonville in the pouring rain is something really special, and something that I encourage people - mostly people that have wronged me in some way - to experience at least once in their life. But today it was worth it. I got to the visitor center and saw some familiar faces, and met some friendly new ones too. Dr. Ashely gave us the rundown on the St. Johns II period midden site that he has been working on in the park. He showed us some of the pottery sherds and faunal remains that had been recovered, and gave us a really great explanation of the chronology of the ceramic styles and paddled decoration in the area, as well as a history of the trade that the natives were involved in.
Of course, after hearing all this, there was no way we could all drive back home without seeing the site, even if it was still raining. So, we all grabbed our ponchos, umbrellas, galoshes, and wetsuits and followed Dr. Ashley down the trail to the midden site. It was really great to be able to see the site and have some of the specific areas that Dr. Ashley mentioned in his presentation actually pointed out.
It was a really great outing, and I was very happy to be able to be there and represent FPAN. Hats off to everyone involved, and I know that we're all looking forward to hearing more about Dr. Ashley's future projects!
And thats the Dirt for today.
-Matt Armstrong

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