Friday, August 19, 2005

Kate the Teacher

Well, I had my debut today as an archaeology instructor. I had agreed to run an “archaeology lab” in the elementary school sandbox for two classes of 7th grade social studies. My housemate is the teacher and we went to great lengths coming up with fun things to bury (such as: the sippy top to a Nalgene bottle, half a soap dish, a giant pencil, melted candle wax, a small metal tin, a scorpion candlestick holder, etc. Really random crap). Anyways, I got out there this morning and buried all the stuff in the sandbox then met with his kids to give them an overview of what archaeology is and why it’s important. They weren’t really paying all that much attention, as all were much more interested in playing in the dirt.

After the intro I divided them into groups and set them loose on the sandbox. And watched the sand fly. “Organized” is perhaps not the first word that springs to mind when witnessing 20 7th graders pawing through a mid-sized container of wet sand. They were mainly able to resist the urge to fling sand at each other, though there were a few memorable lapses. My favorite was when one boy got over-zealous in his digging and flipped some sand into the hair of a nearby girl who mistook the source of the assault and in turn kicked dirt onto an innocent bystander. It nearly escalated into a full-scale riot, but order was eventually restored.

It was only at the end of the lab that I realized I had made a serious mistake. I had failed to record the location of each buried object, naively assuming that the kids would find everything. But of course, I ended up short several objects of varying importance. I stuck around half an hour later than the kids, slogging my way through several tons of sand and was still missing my soap dish. But never fear! All was not lost! In a momentary flash of brilliance, I taped a sign to the sandbox explaining the missing soap dish and offering a reward in the form of a chocolate bar if any kind soul were to find and return it. Enter the elementary school kids. Within about a half an hour, I got a call from a bewildered secretary down at the school explaining that there were several small boys in her office, dirty plastic object clutched in their equally dirty hands, demanding chocolate. Success! So I am once again in possession of the coveted soap dish and I’ll pay up on Monday. Kids are great.


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