By Megan Crawford
This week at Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary, I taught the kids a lesson on museums. My main goal was to emphasize the role that museums play in relation to anthropology, particularly, the preservation of artifacts and their ability to be displayed for public consumption.
We began with a brief review of last week’s lesson on archaeology. I began my lesson by first explaining that museums were not just for anthropology and that they could house art, fossils, books, and so many other things. I explained that museums were organized in exhibits and that the creation of these exhibits were the jobs of the curators. I asked the students what questions a curator might ask if they were trying to create their own exhibit. I got answers such as “How was it used?”, “Where was it used?” and “Who used it?”
Going off of their energy in answering this question, I explained the follow-up activity. In last week’s archaeology activity, the students were each given a midden of modern-day garbage to examine. They examined the garbage and determined the “story” of the garbage and made conclusions about the items in their respective middens. This week the activity was to use the garbage from last time and create an exhibit that would tell the “story” of that assemblage. Each clan would receive one large office supply box in which to create their exhibit and a plethora of colored paper, glue, tape, and other craft supplies. They were tasked with naming their exhibit and displaying all of their items to tell the “story.” They were also given the incentive that their exhibits would be displayed on Parent’s Day at the end of the semester just like in a real museum.
I dismissed them to start their work and they all hurriedly went to their clans. An uproar burst through the classroom as the students tried to decide what to name their exhibits and how they should be set up. All disagreements were quickly worked out by the clan teachers and the kids began to build their exhibits. Each clan approached the project a little differently, but eventually all of the groups were able to build interesting, unique exhibits that displayed their artifacts in an interesting way.
As the class came to a close, the students were so excited and proud of their work, and I was proud of them and the awesome exhibits they made.