Caught up in the whirlwind of our busy lives, it can be easy to forget about our roots. However, at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the staff makes it a point to remind us where we came from. Archaeology Day, which took place Jan. 24, was designed to educate fourth through seventh graders about various types of archaeology as well as what archaeologists have found in the Panhandle itself. Elaina Cunningham, Education Coordinator at PPHM who directed the event, said it was a success.
“We’ve been doing this for five or six years, so we have it down pat,” she says. “Though we still try to mix it up every year by incorporating something new.”
Elaina organizes events and exhibitions concerning grades pre-kindergarten through 12th, outreach and distance learning for those who do not live near the museum. She says she feels it is important for youth to know and understand the history and heritage, and she makes it her goal to deliver it to them in a fun and exciting way.
At the event, approximately 300 students were in attendance and were split into nine groups. Each group was able to see six of the nine stations created to educate them on the principles of archaeology. By incorporating games and activities throughout the lessons, Elaina hoped to create a more retentive educational experience for the participants. The students at the event engaged in pottery making, bead weaving, corn grinding, pictograph drawing, and even archaeology bingo to demonstrate how archaeologists use a grid during excavations.
“We have to make it fun; we have to make it interesting, and we have to bring it to their level so that it’s something they understand,” Elaina states. “We try to mix it up every year, but we always use the pottery because kids like to play with clay and it’s a tactile experience so they can learn something.”
Between Elaina’s passion for history and the student’s interest in learning, Archaeology Day was a great success.
“I really figured out that I’m excited about the history of this area, and that excitement is translated into what I do with kids,” she says, “Because my job is to make history fun.”
by Blake Boone
Blake is a senior at West Texas A&M University pursuing a degree in communication studies and a minor in mass communication. He enjoys reading, listening to music and being an insufferable know-it-all.