Janet Kay, Art & Archaeology

This course went much better than expected in the online-only format, which is largely thanks to CST funding for the materials needed!

CST funds went toward purchasing the materials for students’ lab kits and the few supplies needed for their burial “excavation,” which I conducted remotely and photographed for the students. Lab kits (Fig. 1) included materials for their Bioarchaeology and Environmental Labs, as well as basic supplies such as graph paper, rules, and colored pencils. The Bioarchaeology Lab involved their analysis of demographics from the Pom-Pom Cemetery (Fig. 2), for which I purchased pom-poms, pipe cleaners, and buttons on sale from Michaels. Each different color and different type of object represented various bones and age/sex categories, and students worked with their lab groups to come up with demographic profiles for the sample. This helped them think through the skills that would be necessary for their final project. The Environmental Lab was a big hit with several of the students, largely because of the smartphone clip-on microscopes that they used to analyze their samples.

I also used some of the allotted funds for basic supplies that I did not otherwise have on hand, including high-quality photo paper and colored ink (which I do not keep at home) to print images for their labs. This was in an effort to avoid Google reverse-image searches on images I had pulled from the internet, but the students actually liked having something to look at that wasn’t a computer screen. I also purchased a kiddie pool for their burial projects (the effort to find a kiddie pool after a summer of children across America staying home, was the hardest part of this entire project!), and some other basic supplies.

The burial projects worked very well online (Fig. 3), and the teams learned how to use important online resources to complete group projects. All of the photographs I took of their burials, as well as “specialist” reports on radiocarbon dating, isotopes, artifacts, etc., went into a team Google Drive, so it actually worked out better to gather all these materials online than to try to do it in a classroom. The students missed the benefit of hands-on excavation work, but Zoom lent itself to some very creative final project presentations, including one team that used Zoom backdrops to go “on-location” for a news anchor-style presentation!

Many thanks to the CST for funding the materials needed for the class, and also to Art & Archaeology for their funding and assistance in shipping the lab kits! This course would not have worked nearly as well in engaging the students in the material in the online format without those kits, and they made all the difference.