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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 October 2011

Add It Up: Florida's Math Teachers Learn to Use Archaeology in the Classroom

I feel fairly certain that if a reader reviews my entries in our blog, he or she will find a lot of "one thing I love about my job" commentary.  There's a lot to love about the work I do, and last week I got a surprising new addition to that list.  Math.  If my junior high math teacher Mr. Roberts could read this, I'm sure he'd be shocked. I had the best time last week sharing archaeology lessons that use (and teach) math with educators.

Sarah Nohe staffs our table in the Vendors' hall at FCTM.  Teachers love highlighter pens!

The occasion was the Florida Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual conference, held in Jacksonville.  I was lucky enough to partner with Sarah Nohe, my counterpart in the Southeast region.  Over the course of three days we staffed a vendors' table where we encountered math teachers from all over Florida.  We also conducted an hour-long workshop.

Our workshop supplies and bags of resources for teachers await the crowd...

I can't tell you how anxious I was about it--as a girl who has to work for math to really click with me, I was nervous about how well I could communicate these lessons to teachers for whom the subject matter is intuitive.  I was nervous that maybe our subject matter wouldn't resonate--what if no one showed up? 

Introducing a lesson that uses circumference to
estimate the diameter of a vessel.

As I'm sure you've guessed by now, we were blown away with the way our workshop was received!  The room was at capacity with teachers who wanted to hear how we use math in our work.  Teachers, maybe especially math teachers, get questions all the time from students about whether they'll ever use the things they learn in "real life."  The truth is, math is a part of the science of archaeology.  We use the Pythagorean Theorem to lay out every unit!  The zillions of maps we draw rely on the ability to work with the coordinate plane.  Working with measurements and comparative quantities help to guide our understanding of the sites we uncover.  And all of that happens before we even get into a lab and really crunch the data!  Simply, math provides a framework--a structure that clarifies observable phenomena--it provides a stable backdrop that allows for effective comparison and interpretation.

Teachers mapped & excavated cookies with "rainbow" chips.  As an example of real-life mapping we showed another
colorful image: a map by the City of St. Augustine's archaeologist that uses colors to denote the date ranges
 of features at a Colonial Spanish site.
Sarah and I had a blast helping the teachers dive into hands-on lessons--in cookie excavation, they mapped the outline and "features" (chips) of a chocolate chip cookie, and listed the coordinates at which the chips could be found.  In a carbon-14 dating lesson, they got to work with probabilities and graphing using m&ms--always a favorite lesson of mine.  We used broken dishes to learn about measuring the circumference of an object working with just a piece of its arc. 

Teachers tried their hand at another tasty lesson!  In this activity, students use probabilities and graphing skills,
not to mention M&Ms, to explore how Carbon-14 dating works.

We had so much fun, I kind of wished that we had the room all day!  We left them with many more activities to try out on their own--lessons that work with principles of math at a variety of grade levels.  The feedback that we heard was great--one of our workshoppers was even able to get the C-14 lesson to her colleagues as they were finalizing math curriculum for the coming semester.  She said the teachers she works with loved the activity too, and they'll start using it in the classroom soon. 

Outreach to teachers achieved!  That makes us very happy public archaeologists indeed.

The whole conference, but especially the workshop, really encouraged me to find new ways to reach out to teachers.  Archaeology lessons fold in naturally with science and social studies, but clearly we're missing out when we don't engage teachers of other subject areas.  So, as with many events in archaeology, my discovery has generated ever more questions.  Would a mini-workshop focusing primarily on math, like the one we offered at FCTM, draw enough interest to be well-attended?  If so, would smaller workshops focusing on more specific subject areas be an effective new approach to outreach for educators?  What other subject areas should we target?

What do you think?

We need Anthropology, Anthropology needs us!

Calls and emails started flooding in Tuesday after remarks made by our own Governor Rick Scott.  Being employed Anthropologists, we were quite busy this week: Tuesday we conducted a cemetery protection course in Manatee County, Wednesday we split efforts between Sarah working with planners to understand archaeology reporting and ordinances while Amber set up for the statewide math teacher's conference, and yesterday we did double duty again with math and science teachers in Jacksonville.

I'm grateful to Dr. Lees for posting the official FPAN response today via our website.  Please feel free to forward to anyone and join in the many voices calling out for change in attitudes towards Anthropology and the value of liberal arts education.

Wrote your letter already?  Share your talking point!  We want to hear!

FPAN staff in Tallahassee at Mission San Luis.

William B. Lees, PhD, RPA, Executive Director Florida Public Archaeology Network

Florida Governor Rick Scott has recently been in the news for proposing that some liberal arts programs should not be supported at state universities because of the need to focus on jobs related to programs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). He has used Anthropology as an example of one of these programs that should no longer be offered within the State University System. As a career professional with three degrees in Anthropology, and as executive director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, I am greatly concerned by this proposal.

Archaeology is in fact one of the major sub-disciplines of Anthropology. Scientifically trained archaeologists are employed in universities, museums, cultural resource management firms, and governmental agencies to manage historic places, educate our children, engage tourists and residents, work with land managers and developers, and carry out new and original interdisciplinary research about our collective heritage. FPAN’s eight Regional Centers are staffed with Anthropologists who work to engage and educate Florida’s residents, visitors, and school-aged children about our archaeological heritage. We work with local governments to find creative ways to preserve archaeological sites and to develop local archaeological heritage into tourist destinations.

Florida universities have a long history of conducting significant and far-reaching studies into the state’s prehistoric and historic past. Archaeology tells us everything that we know of the history of the people of Florida during 10,000+ years of prehistory, and has helped tell and retell the story of Florida after the Spanish came ashore almost 500 years ago. These studies have not only written Florida history, they provide authentic content to a very important and sustainable heritage tourism and historic preservation industry that brings in over $4 billion per year to Florida’s economy (http://www.flheritage.com/preservation/economic-impact.cfm).
In addition to training future generations of professional archaeologists, Florida universities train Anthropology students with career tracks in the health sciences, in forensics, and in many other areas that touch our daily lives (see http://prezi.com/vmvomt3sj3fd/this-is-anthropology). In addition, many students choose the BA in Anthropology, or coursework in Anthropology, not as a career track but as the basis for careers in fields such as Medicine, Law, Political Science, International Relations, and Business.

Florida universities have a very long and distinguished legacy of excellence in the field of Anthropology. Archaeology faculty in Florida universities have been and continue to be leaders in the archaeological profession nationally and internationally, and students trained in archaeology programs in Florida are consistently considered to be among the best prepared in the nation. The quality of these programs, and the demand for trained archaeologists, has caused increased enrollments in Florida Anthropology programs in recent years. Departments of Anthropology in Florida attract not only residents interested in careers in archaeology but also some of the best students from other states and nations.

Anthropology at Florida universities is a sustained success story because it is relevant to the needs of today’s college students. If you would like Governor Rick Scott to know your opinion on the teaching of Anthropology in state supported universities in Florida, you may contact him via email:
…or you may send a letter to Governor Rick Scott, Office of Governor Rick Scott, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399.

Your opinion matters!

The Scoop on CRPT - Our First Cemetery Resource Protection Training Workshop

Workshop Participants
On a warm but beautiful late September day in Palatka, Putnam County, Florida, we initiated our first in a series of cemetery conservation workshops.  Developed by the Florida Public Archaeology Network - Northeast Region, and supported by the City of Palatka, the Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) is a one day workshop on preserving historic cemeteries.  The program combines classroom instruction with a  hands-on cemetery conservation demonstration.  

The City of Palatka provided a beautiful classroom in the Price Martin House, access to the historicWest View cemetery, and the help of city cemetery personnel and volunteers who also attended the workshop.  Twenty participants attended including city personnel, cemetery volunteers and teachers.

Opening Comments by Sarah Miller

Human Burials and the Law by Dr. Rachel Wentz
  The morning began with a get-to-know-you icebreaker with everyone sketching a headstone for posting on the wall of our virtual cemetery.  Dr. Rachel Wentz next discussed Human Burials and the Law, an overview of federal and state laws governing cemeteries.

Sarah introduced cemeteries as cultural resources and best practices for managing and preserving historic cemeteries.

Did you know that historic cemeteries can be better protected when they are listed on the Florida Master Site File (FMSF)?   Toni Wallace walked the participants through a presentation on how to fill out the FMSF Cemetery Form.

Adding Cemeteries to the FMSF by Toni Wallace
It's important to know your cemetery's boundaries so that ALL of its burials can be protected.  Amber discussed strategies to find and document the boundaries of a cemetery focusing on use of ground penetrating radar (GPR).

Amber Grafft-Weiss discusses GPR and finding cemetery boundaries
 After a quick lunch, we all met up at West View Cemetery for a guided tour of the historic cemetery by Christy Sanford and some hands-on experience documenting the condition of cemeteries and cleaning some markers.

Christy Sanford points out the final resting places of some notable figures including Florida's first governor

Sarah Miller offers a wholistic approach to cemetery care

Under the pavilion, Sarah presented a crash course to the participants on documenting the overall condition of a cemetery using a form that includes cemetery maintenance, headstone cleaning, preservation and landscaping activities. 
Mary Miller and another participant carefully note cemetery conditions

They saw a variety of markers and got a glimpse of headstones in need of some loving care

The workshop's culminating activity allowed participants to gain hands-on experience cleaning headstones with a solution of D-2.   D-2 has been tested and deemed safe and effective in cleaning headstones.  The participants jumped right into the task and did a great job.  Eleven markers were cleaned.  Cleaning is a simple process. Using D-2 and a soft-brisled brush, markers can be cleaned in a way that will not harm them in the long run.

Sarah briefs participants on proper cleaning prodedures

Participants clean markers with D-2 

And here are the results of the cleaning activities with D-2.







FPAN-NE plans to conduct CRPT workshops in every county in Northeast Florida this year.  Look for information on the scheduled date for your county.  The next one will be in Volusia County.  Hope to see you at one of them.   For further information contact Amber at the FPAN - NE office at aweiss@flagler.edu or http://www.flpublicarchaeology.org/.

"What Is It?" Wednesday

We've been on the road with meetings in Tallahassee and CRPT training in Palatka, but managed to take a picture of an interesting artifact.  Comment below and we'll send you out the Spanish Colonial Heritage Trail Guide published by the Division of Historical Resources!

  WHAT IS IT?!?!?

You tell us- what is it, where is it, what does it mean?

Last WIIW answer: fastener on an early to mid 20th century sailboat we recorded in Lake Monroe for the Florida Master Site File!  Read more about the find in this News-Journal article.

And thanks to Debby Westerman for her Facebook comments...I Dig 1565 bumper sticker headed your way!

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