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SUMMER EDUCATOR WORKSHOPS

Summer 2023 was a great one for K-12 educator workshops across the country!

National program staff, network members, and state coordinators held workshops in Kansas, Nevada, Colorado, and Minnesota this year, where 41 educators and heritage education professionals left equipped to successfully lead Project Archaeology investigations and activities in their classrooms and informal learning environments. Read on to learn more about each of these workshops and get inspired to lead or attend a workshop of your own in 2024! 

Little House on the Prairie in Minnesota, July 2023

In July, eight educators from Minnesota, Texas, California, Michigan, and Florida traveled to the prairies of Minnesota for a two-day summer workshop led by Courtney Agenten and Samantha Kirkley. Teachers connected literature to the past through a Project Archaeology shelter investigation of the Tinsley Farmhouse in the historical setting of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series: Mankato and Walnut Grove, MN.

Educators visited the Blue Earth County History Center, where they learned about shelter and how archaeologists study the past, traveled to the Ingalls Dugout home site near Walnut Grove, and explored the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum – all while engaging in hands-on learning experiences that opened their eyes to the power of archaeological inquiry in engaging with the past. And, no workshop would be complete without a delicious cast iron meal of BBQ chicken, potatoes, and peach cobbler cooked over an open fire!

A hot topic of discussion at the workshop was the censorship of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books in some of the school districts. The workshop’s guest speaker, Dean Jean Boreen, PhD from Southern Utah University, shared some insight into how to approach the literary themes and challenges of Wilder’s books, noting that student’s feeling tension in a book is a good teachable moment. Boreen noted that “We don’t need to give up reading these wonderful books, but we do need to contextualize these stories within the events occurring during the time period; the charm of the books and Laura’s view of her world are important for our students to experience today.”

Thank you to the Institute for Heritage Education for helping fund the workshop.

Archaeology of Shelter and Migration in Kansas, June 2023

The Archaeology of Shelter and Migration in Kansas, hosted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Kansas Anthropological Association, took place on June 12-13, 2023 at the Historic Lake Scott State Park west of Scott City, Kansas. The workshop, led by Jann Rudkin, Virginia Wulfkuhle, and Gail Lundeen, introduced six informal educators to the Project Archaeology: Investigating a Pawnee Earthlodge curriculum, as well as the Investigating A Midwestern Wickiup, Great Basin Wickiup, and supplemental resources. Participants also had the opportunity to interact with the Kansas-specific migration unit, Migration of Pueblo People to El Cuartelejo.

Educators also had the unique opportunity to hear from guest speaker Mike Wallen, who shared a different perspective from that featured in the Migration of Pueblo People to El Cuartelejo, and tour both the archaeological site of El Cuartelejo

STUDENT ACTIVITIES – QUIZ 1

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE AN ARCHAEOLOGIST? TAKE OUR QUIZ NOW

1.

Archaeologists dig up dinosaurs.

 
 

2.

Archaeological sites are found only in Egypt.

 
 

3.

Archaeologists spend all of their time digging.

 
 

4.

Artifacts found in archaeological sites should be left where they are.

 
 

Question 1 of 4

EVENT: Archaeology of a Little House on the Prairie

RECENT EVENT

Archaeology of Little House on the Prairie

This workshop connected to the past through a shelter investigation of an historic farmhouse in the prairie setting of Mankato and Walnut Grove, MN. Thank you Institute for Heritage Education Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum for a great workshop!

Teachers enjoyed learning about a historic farmhouse in Mankato and Walnut Grove, Minnesota!

“Thank you for another amazing project archeology class!…Being in the class for a third time has really solidified my understanding in how to better facilitate the information to the students, and I create new ideas each time I have been able to collaborate with other educators. The outing to Walnut Grove and learning about the archeology that is involved in a more modern time in history fascinated me just as much as the Native American curriculum.” - Texas Teacher

We analyzed artifacts and historic photos at the Blue Earth County History Society. We ate food cooked over a campfire on a river ravine. We explored the banks of Plum Creek to discover the Ingalls dugout house. Thank you Institute for Heritage Education Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum for a great workshop!


This two-day workshop for teachers of grades 3-8 connected you to the past through a Project Archaeology shelter investigation of an historic farmhouse in the prairie setting of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series: Mankato and Walnut Grove, MN.

The first day of the workshop took place at the Blue Earth County History Center in Mankato, MN with lessons and exhibits to enhance our learning of archaeology, historic photographs, and culture. On the second day we “uncovered” a farmhouse archaeological site exploring the geography, history, and artifacts of a real house on the prairie. Our investigation concluded with a field trip to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Ingalls Dugout archaeological site. Teachers also had the option to stay that evening in Walnut Grove to watch the famous Wilder Pageant.

Discover the Past

by Jeanne Moe, Curriculum Director

Project Archaeology: 33 Years and Going Strong

In 1990, a team of archaeologists and educators distributed the first version of the educational materials that would eventually become the national Project Archaeology program. The first draft included a series of lessons on rock art; what it might mean, why it is important to protect it, and the fact that it is often damaged by modern graffiti, chalk tracing, bullet holes, and attempts to remove it from the stone walls.

Intrigue of the Past curriculum guide

"Intrigue of the Past" curriculum guide.

About a year later we received some brief assessments from elementary students who had experienced some of these lessons. One of the questions we asked students was, “What will you remember about archaeology a year from now”? Many of the students answered, “Vandalism of rock art hurts the living descendants of the people who made it.” When I saw those answers, I thought, “We have something here.” The kids made the connection between the past and present and between thoughtless vandalism and the feelings of living descendants. They achieved cultural understanding at a deep conceptual level. I knew then that cultural heritage education would be my life’s work and I have never looked back.

Project Archaeology is a national archaeology education program founded by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 1992 for educators and their students. It was developed in the early 1990s for three purposes: to develop awareness of our nation’s diverse and fragile archaeological sites, to instill a sense of personal responsibility for stewardship of these sites, and to enhance scientific and historical literacy and cultural understanding through the study of archaeology. Educational materials and professional development are distributed through a network of state and regional programs. Since 1992, programs have been established in 40 states; 30 programs remain active and new programs are currently under development across the nation.

Jeanne Moe conducting Hula Hoop Mapping lesson with 5th graders at Fort Parker in Montana.

Jeanne Moe conducting Hula Hoop Mapping lesson with 5th graders at Fort Parker in Montana.

Network of State Project Archaeology Programs from 2019 Annual Report. Since 1990 we have trained 18,700 educators through 1,052 professional development workshops. These educators have used Project Archaeology materials to instruct an estimated 375,000 students and learners of all ages annually.

The National Project Archaeology Program resided at Montana State University from 2001 to 2022. Headquarters and operations were transferred to Southern Utah University (SUU) in Cedar City in November 2022. The program now operates under a four-way partnership between SUU (College of Humanities and Social Sciences), the Institute for Heritage Education (IHE), the Project Archaeology Leadership Team, and the BLM.

Despite a challenging transition in leadership and institutional support, our Network Coordinators and Master Teachers have continued to provide professional development events and to distribute materials over the last few years. With a solid base of support and new leadership, we are confident that Project Archaeology will continue to expand in breadth and depth in the coming years.


Teachers from across the nation visiting Parowan Gap in Utah during the Voices of the Ancients: Archaeology and Oral Tradition in the American West, a Landmarks of American History & Culture Teacher Workshop funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities in 2021.

Teachers from across the nation visiting Parowan Gap in Utah during the Voices

VIDEO: Investigating Shelter: Lesson Two

Investigating Shelter

LESSON TWO

Watch this short video and learn how to teach Lesson Two: By Our Houses You Will Know Us in your classroom.

How can Project Archaeology Investigating Shelter professional development and classroom learning look?

Watch this short video and learn how to teach Lesson Two: By Our Houses You Will Know Us in your classroom. You will be prepared to lead your students through the first phases of archaeological investigation; students begin the process by researching their own homes and the objects (artifacts) that provide clues to human activities within spaces.

VIDEO: Investigating Shelter: Lesson Four

INVESTIGATING SHELTER

Lesson Four

This video will help you guide students through the inquiry process from making observations, inferring past human behavior, and using evidence to support their conclusions.

Observation and inference are part of our everyday lives.

Archaeologists hone these skills to study the past. Have you experienced your students mastering these thinking skills when using the Investigating Shelter curricula?

Lesson Six: Observation, Inference, and Evidence shows students the heart of scientific and archaeological inquiry through engaging hands-on activities and cooperative learning. This video will help you guide students through the inquiry process from making observations, inferring past human behavior, and using evidence to support their conclusions.

Meet the Staff

The Project Archaeology National Program consists of directors and staff, a leadership team, and a diverse network of archaeology educators that provide leadership, guidance, and support.

SAMANTHA KIRKLEY

Samantha Kirkley, Professional Development Director, Utah Coordinator

JEANNE MOE

COURTNEY AGENTEN

Courtney Agenten, Network Director, Leadership Team Chair, Minnesota Coordinator