Center for Environment & Society at Washington College
Institute of Notre Dame
Investigating an Earthfast House teaches students about the lives of the early colonists of Maryland by investigating an earthfast house occupied from 1690 to 1711 on what was once a tobacco plantation.
It includes brief histories about the King’s Reach earthfast house, the Smith family who lived there, and the plantation it was located on in Maryland. Quadrant maps from the earthfast archaeological site are provided for students.
Mr. Mike Smolek, archaeologist and descendent of the Smith family who lived in the earthfast house, guides students through the investigation. Through archaeology, students discover artifacts left behind and how soil analysis assists in interpreting the site.
Smithsonian Sponsors Chesapeake Office
The Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology is the Chesapeake Regional Office of Project Archaeology and serves Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.
The Smithsonian Institution and Montana State University, on behalf of Project Archaeology, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007 between Project Archaeology and the Department of Anthropology “to collaborate to promote intellectual exchange and the advancement of education and outreach in archaeology, to enhance an understanding of the preservation and study of the past among students and educators, and to develop the resources required to pursue these objectives.”
To achieve these goals, Project Archaeology’s Chesapeake Regional Office organizes professional development workshops for upper elementary teachers in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Keep your eyes on this site to learn about future teacher workshops.
The program develops educational materials for teachers, scout leaders, and museum educators. It conducts workshops for incorporating archaeology in the classroom and provides ongoing regional mentoring between professional archaeologists and educators. Many aspects of the curriculum materials are interdisciplinary.
A showcase of previous workshops for Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Educators:
“This is by far the best workshop I have attended in a very long time. Not only did I learn new lessons to teach, but I am so excited that I can integrate them right intro reading, writing, and math.”
“Excellent. I would highly recommend this to other teachers. I learned a great deal.”
This year’s teacher workshop on the Investigating Shelter curriculum focused on a late 17th century earthfast house in Calvert County, Maryland. Teachers spent two classroom days at the National Museum of Natural History being introduced to this multidisciplinary curriculum that introduces the basic concepts of archaeological inquiry and then applies them to the investigation of a shelter, using historical evidence.
Teachers also toured the exhibition Written in Bone, Forensic Files of the 17th Century and attended a lecture by the exhibit curator Dr. Douglas Owsley, who talked about his work as a forensic anthropologist. On the workshop’s third day, teachers had an opportunity to engage in archaeological fieldwork at Historic London Town and Gardens, a colonial seaport in Anne Arundel County, which has a reconstructed earthfast house, and hear a presentation on the history and archaeology of these dwellings.
Teachers from Virginia, DC, and Maryland, including Baltimore County, attended the workshop, Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter, African American Archaeology in the Chesapeake Region, June 28-30, which included museum classroom instruction and excavation at an archaeological site in Maryland. The Investigating Shelter curriculum, endorsed by the National Council for Social Studies, was supplemented with presentations, activities, and materials that focused on African American archaeology in the Chesapeake region.
Teachers practiced the basics of scientific and historical inquiry using authentic archaeological data to investigate a slave quarter that was located at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest plantation in Virginia. Kirsti Uunila, historic preservation planner at Calvert County Government, was a guest speaker. After two days of interactive classroom activities, the teachers visited Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in Calvert County, Maryland, where they participated in an archaeological excavation of an 18th century site. Project Archaeology Program Manager Maureen Malloy taught the course with elementary teacher Jackie Moore. Ann Kaupp was a workshop organizer.
This workshop introduced new teaching materials, based on the complete archaeological investigation of a 17th century earthfast house in Calvert County, Maryland, that model how scientists analyze and interpret data. This new supplementary science and social studies curriculum unit for grades 3 – 5 consists of 9 comprehensive lessons that guide students through the archaeological study of shelter. The workshop included a tour of the exhibit Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century Chesapeake and an historic forensic exercise in the exhibit’s Forensic Anthropology Lab
This two-day workshop, which focused on an excavated slave quarters at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, was geared to upper elementary teachers with ethnically diverse classrooms. Seventeen teachers practiced the basics of scientific inquiry and then assumed roles as archaeologists using geography, history (including oral history), and archaeology in their investigation of the slave cabin. They analyzed artifacts and historic structures, incorporating information on soil chemistry, spatial reasoning, ethnobotany, and zoology. They also explored the ethics of conducting scientific research on past cultures and peoples and participated in role playing. The subject of enslaved people prompted lively discussions as several teachers shared stories of their family’s personal histories.