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Summer 2002
Carl A. Bimson Humanities Seminar
Colorado State University
College of Liberal Arts
Department of Anthropology  and Laboratory of Human Paleoecology

Learning From the Field –Teaching from the Field:
A Collaborative Experience on the Nebraska High Plains


Seminar Activities - Summer 2002

Seminar Overview 2002
GK-12 Teacher  Goals
Goals for CSU
CSU Student Goals
GK-12 Student Goals

Seminar Activities
Daily Schedule
Monday June 24
Tuesday June 25
Wednesday June 26
Thursday June 27
Friday June 28
Saturday June 29

Post-Seminar Option
Additional Field Time
Fall 2002 Class Visits

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During 2001, we initiated a pilot program to use the site as a setting for allowing GK-12 students and their teachers to participate in Simulated Excavation Unit (SEU) project.  For the pilot study a group of eight girl scouts (aged 10-13 years) were given an introductory discussion about archaeology; provided with basic overview of mammalian osteology; and then given closely mentored training in basic archaeological field methods within a 1x2 m simulated excavation area located inside the bonebed enclosure. Our goals in establishing this simulated excavation were:

  • To design a simulated excavation are where learning could take place in a realistic perspective by placing programs and activities with the physical and anthropological context of the site

  • Creating activities that focus on using scientific archaeological methods to answer questions about past human behaviors.

  • Allow students to have hands-on experience with relevant technological applications such as EDM surveying instruments.

  • Emphasize the multidisciplinary nature of research at the site will be taught and reinforced though fieldwork activities

  • All activities will illustrate the relevance of preservation of cultural resources to maintaining an informed awareness of the human past

During the summer and fall 2002, we’d like to take advantage of this facility to work with a group of 15 primary and secondary teachers to foster a multi-scale learning and teaching dialog. First, we see the Hudson-Meng SEU project as an ideal opportunity to introduce GK-12 teachers to the basic operation archaeological research, which could serve as the basis for integrating the archaeological examples into their curriculum materials and lesson plans. Given the level of public interest in archaeology through movie and video game characters (e.g., Indiana Jones or Lara Croft), student often are much more open to learning about a variety of topics ranging from the importance of cultural awareness to the uses of geometry when it is packaged as an archaeological example. The program is designed to increase teachers’ exposure to the most recent research in scientific archaeology and offers them access to materials and experience with they can describe in their classrooms.

Second, we see collaboration with K-12 teachers as a way to develop innovative, effective approaches for making best use of the on-site learning potentials for a variety of younger students. In this respect the field archaeologists could serve as ‘content providers’ while the teachers guide us in how to design and implement the most effective learning activities for a variety of age groups.

Finally, the program will provide an opportunity for Colorado State University students enrolled in the AP460 V (Field Class in Archaeology), Graduate Students, and USDA Forest Service Staff to gain experience and training in the learning-teaching process from collaboration with University Staff, Interpretive professional, and the GK-12 teachers. Building on the list of benefits and goals described for the NSF GK-12 Graduate Teaching Fellows program (NSF 2002), we will seek to develop an interactive teaching/learning environment between these groups. Specific goals for each of the groups (adapted from NSF 2002) are:

GK-12 Teacher Collaborative Goals:

  • To encourage inquiry-based learning in the classroom

  • To learn new ways of bringing multi-disciplinary ideas into the classroom

  • To learn scientific concepts and real-life applications or problems

  • To gain access to new types of equipment and new experiments

  • To be able to continue with projects after the field program

  • To gain knowledge of research projects, technology, concepts

  • To gain a sense of renewal in teaching

Goals for CSU/USDA Forest Service:

  • To increase technical literacy

  • To strengthen future college students

  • To aid in the integration of research and education

  • To provide professional development for graduate students

  • To enhance the competitive advantage of major research grants

  • To improve awareness of opportunities in higher education

  • To support improved relations between science and education faculty

  • To encourage interdisciplinary environmental thinking

  • To strengthen ties to the community

  • To improve interpretive potential of archaeological public education programs

CSU Student Enrichment Goals:

  • To be able to communicate scientific ideas to diverse audiences

  • To solidify knowledge of scientific concepts, by being able to shift from "learner" to "teacher"

  • To interact with groups discussing teaching and learning

  • To learn to assess student thinking and learning in the context of content

  • To appreciated a balance between teaching and research activities

  • To gain real-life experience in teaching

  • To gain an appreciation for K-12 teachers and the challenges of their jobs

  • To become leaders in education

Goals for Participating GK-12 Students (both at the site and in the teacher’s classrooms)

  • To make learning fun and exciting though incorporation of research exercises

  • To provide diverse role models in research and learning

  • To develop a clearer sense of human/environmental interactions

  • To begin to think about learning as a life-long activity

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Daily Schedule

A group of about teachers accepted to the program will travel 5 hours to the Hudson-Meng site to participation in learning and helping to develop ways to make learning experiences at the site productive and effective for a variety of age groups. Transportation will be provided, although use of personal vehicles is also allowed.   Camping facilities are available at the site. For participants desiring slightly less rustic settings, a bed and breakfast is located 3 miles from the site (High Plains Homestead) Food, kitchen facilities, showers, and basic supplies will be provided at the site. The following general outline of daily activities is tentative and intentionally vague because we want to be able to have enough flexibility in the daily programs to allow the participating teachers to have as much input as possible. On-going research at the site deals with a very wide range of topics for discussion ranging from rotting bison carcasses, to harvester ant foraging behaviors, to the impacts of grazing cattle on landscapes, to creating cognitive landscape maps, to the applications of GPS mapping to environmental monitoring, to solving complex, long-ago murder mysteries. 

The basic daily scheule is as follows: breakfast is own your own with food provided and available in the cooktent; the field day begins at 7:00 AM (be ready to go at 7:00 AM); lunch is either in the cooktent, or out of cooler if we are away from the site.  The field day ends at 4:00 and 4:00-6:00 is free time.  Dinner is at 6:00 PM, and evening discussion are 7:00-9:00 P.M.

Part of the selection process of which of these receive the most attention must be based on the dynamics of a specific group of teacher’s interests. We want to leave options open for smaller groups of teachers to be able to ‘follow their interests’ in the Hudson-Meng/Oglala National Grasslands setting.

Monday June 24, Goal – Think about the of complex systems though deep time: Travel from Fort Collins to Hudson-Meng, Nebraska. Meet on CSU campus at 8:00 AM in parking lot on west side of the General Service Building (see campus map).   Travel to site will include tour of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and discussion of how archaeologists, paleontologists, and paleoecologists try to learn about the remote past. Arrive at Hudson-Meng mid-afternoon and have introduction to the site and the research program. Evening lecture-workshop; telling time; Speaker: R. Graham.

Tuesday June 25, Goal – Envisioning human/landscape interactions since the Ice Age: Morning – human use of the grassland ecosystem; bison hunters to homesteaders. Afternoon. Participation in simulated excavation. Evening workshop: Plants, Ants, and Data plots. Speaker : C. Hurst.

Wednesday June 26, Goal – Bringing Time and Space into the K-12 classroom: Morning – designing learning modules. Afternoon: Preparation of Simulated Excavation. Evening lecture; workshop, mammal skeletons. Speaker: L. Todd.

Thursday June 27, Goal – Implementation of Field Learning Exercises: Student (K-12) participant’s work at Hudson-Meng (conducted with the assistance of Colorado State University Field Class in Archaeology students, faculty, and USDA Forest Service Hudson-Meng Interpretive Staff).

Friday June 28 Goal – Evaluation, Assessment, and Retooling: Taking archaeology back to the classroom and leaving a better learning environment at Hudson-Meng; Farewell dinner – bison barbecue at Hudson-Meng.

Saturday June 29: Return to Fort Collins. Depart site at 10:00 AM, arrive at General Services Building at approximately 3:00 PM. 

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Post-Seminar Option

After the 5 day intensive program of activities, we will make arrangements for teachers interested in spending additional time to continue developing their field curricular projects. We’ll have basic mapping equipment, digital cameras, computers, printers and copiers available and can continue to assist teachers during our final ten-day field session at the site (July 2-11). Seminar Participants wishing to take advantage of this option may also enroll for 3 credits of our field school (AP460 Field Class in Archaeology).  

Fall 2002 Class site visits

After school starts in the fall (during September and October) each teacher who participated in the seminar will be invited to bring a class of up to 20 students  for a field visit to excavations at the Kaplan-Hoover bison kill site near Windsor, to experience the archaeological record and to see CSU students working to learn more about the lives of people who lived here in Colorado nearly 3000 years ago. Over the last 3 years, we've had nearly 3000 grade school, middle school, and high school students have toured the site and we would like our Bimson participants to be able to include site visits in their fall lesson plans.  Each tour takes approximately 1 hour. 

Goals – Allow students to gain first-hand experience watching older students doing field research. Emphasis will be placed on several key points:

  • Learning a research discipline is ‘learning how to learn the unknown"

  • Allowing teachers to build a field research visit into their curricular planning.

  • Stressing the importance of protecting and preserving heritage resources, especially those of Native American, whose

  • history in this continent is most often written only in the "archaeological record" and is daily being subjected to

  • destruction and looting.

  • Awakening an awareness of the interconnectedness of academic disciplines. The research at Kaplan-Hoover weaves

  • together aspects of the humanities and natural sciences in a way that highlights the ways that both can contribute to a

  • better understanding of the human condition.

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