Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The last few weeks have been busy ones at my internship with FPAN. In addition to working on a display for the public library and recording the San Sebastian cemetery, I have been able to attend two outreach events.

The FPAN gang at Archaeologists for Autism. (Photo credit: Archaeologists for Austim)
The first event was Archaeologists of Autism at the end of October. Archaeologists for Autism is an amazing event created by archaeologist Thomas Penders, the father of an autistic daughter, Becky. After attending a Surfers for Autism event with Becky, Mr. Penders began thinking about how all children love dinosaurs and playing archaeologist, including autistic children. The Archaeologists of Autism event was for children aged 6-17, anywhere on the autism spectrum. The event was limited to one hundred families, to keep the stress level for the children low, and included an entire day full of activities. Some of the activities included helping with a real archaeological excavation, creating their own fossils, atlatl throwing, as well as face painting, therapy horses, and many, many more.  For FPAN’s activities, we focused on helping the children learn about underwater archaeology. We brought an anchor for mapping, our shipwreck of the Maple Leaf, which encourages the children to use artifacts to hypothesize what the use of the related area of the ship would be, and our foam activity, where children reach through the foam and try to determine what an artifact is by touch only, unable to see through the foam. The highlight of my day was working with little boy named Charlie on the anchor mapping activity. When we had completed the activity, his mother expressed her surprise at his engagement in the activity, as he typically does not show any interest in getting involved.
Making pots at Marshfest!
The second event was Marshfest in early November, which took place at Dutton Island Preserve in Jacksonville. Marshfest was my first solo event representing FPAN, and we focused on activities relating to the Timucuan Indians. My primary activity, which attracted as many adults as it did children, was creating Native American pottery from Play-Doh and decorating it using some of the same materials that the Timucuans would have used to decorate their own pottery. In addition to many vendors representing the natural side of Florida, including a couple of live, native wildlife for visitors to touch, Marshfest offered nature hikes, an environmental play, and even kayak trips. It was a beautiful day at the preserve, and I enjoyed being able to share a little information about Timucuan pottery and FPAN with the visitors.
Words and text by Courtney Crum, FPAN intern, unless otherwise noted.

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