Friday, February 9, 2018

 As a part of FPAN's outreach mission, we spent a full day at a St. Johns County middle school teaching kids about dating.  With Valentine's Day right around the corner, it seemed like a timely topic.

Emily Jane Murray captivates her audience
If these young teens were looking for tips on how to impress the object of their affection, they were probably sorely disappointed.  BUT, if they were looking to learn about how archaeologists date artifacts, then they were in luck!

The kids learned about Relative Dating through sorting images of phones through time (starting with the first operator phone and ending the line with the latest iPhone). 
Trying to figure out their phone typology seriation

Typology and Seriation were demonstrated through this activity.   The phone image timeline illustrated that we could have a conversation about the changes and trends of an item through time without necessarily knowing the exact dates of when it was invented.

The kids also learned about Absolute Dating and two absolute dating methods used in Archaeology:

Dendrochronology: The science of dating events, environmental change, and archaeological artifacts by analyzing the patterns of tree rings.  The students used strips of paper as "tree ring samples" in order to determine their ages.
students determining a tree's age through matching a tree's rings to comparative samples
 Radiocarbon Dating uses the decay of carbon-14 to estimate the age of organic material.  In order to grasp this concept, students graphed M and M candy isotopes ( M-side down represented decayed isotopes and M-side up represented undecayed).
Sorting, Counting and Graphing M and M isotopes
 It's been a while since I was in middle school...

1980's middles school challenge: when your mom buys you Hunters Run shirts, not Polo

but I do remember it to be fraught with challenges.  We at FPAN cannot help with all of these middle school challenges, but at least we helped clarify the subject of dating for 425 seventh graders.

Text and Images by FPAN Staff, Robbie Boggs

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