Final Day at Arcadia Spring 2017 – Food! A Team Teaching Effort

So for our last day at TMSE we talked about food and how it is a thing that gathers everyone together in all cultures. But, first we started off with a short quiz about everything we covered in the past weeks at TMSE to determine what information was being absorbed and remembered. Each of our little clans had some very good scores on the quiz and the top three individuals who scored the highest were rewarded with gummy worms and gummy bears.

Fire Phoenix Clan enjoying the feast on our final class day!

Next, we went into the PowerPoint lecture which discussed foods from different areas around the globe as well as how these foods related to the culture they came from. One of our examples was the Margherita pizza, named after Queen Margherita, and we discussed how she liked it because it reminded her of the Italian flag. We also talked about how, in Indonesia, a meal is not considered a meal unless there is rice.

A member of the Mighty Animal Dinosaurs enjoying some Lychee Coconut Jelly!
Licking Lychee Jelly is also an acceptable way to eat this delicious treat.









After we the PowerPoint lecture we had an international feast of different foods. We had Veggie Korma from India, which was really good but not a hit with all the kids. However, they all did like the naan that came with it! We also had cheese pizza (Italy), lychee gummy candy (which was a huge hit), lychee coconut jelly (also a huge hit), aloe vera juice (which they liked), and chips with guacamole. Even with all this food the kids kept asking about crickets! So I think we should’ve brought more.

American Cheese shows off their clan dance – the Gibbler Gallop
Some of our young anthropologists have impressive skills!








We discussed how in many cultures, feasting and dancing go hand in hand. So, after we got done feasting we got up and danced the rest of the class away. We also got each clan to show us one final time their clan dances, which they performed in the front of the class. They really enjoyed the semester with us and say they all want to do it again. I am going to miss those little guys and gals and I hope they had a fun time learning about ANTHROPOLOGY!!!!


Our young anthropologists!

Race at TMSE – What is race anyway? – A Team Teaching Effort.

Today at TMSE we discussed race and human variation. The lecture covered the intricacies of how we perceive race in America by addressing what anthropologists view it as. It is important to know that race is a social construct, rather than based in biology, which means that while it appears natural and factual it is actually largely reliant on the interpretation of the individual. In addition to having no biological, scientific basis, anthropologists do not use race as a definable category because our perceptions can so easily differentiate.

Instead, we recognize that what is perceived as race (i.e., skin color), is due to our ancestor’s adaptations to different environments. For example, lighter skin developed further away from equator to facilitate the absorption of vitamin D, while darker skin developed along the equator to protect from the sun’s harsh UV rays. Further, rather than classifying or categorizing people based on race, we tend to examine ethnicity instead.

We told the students about how our views on race might differentiate from what they have grown up believing. This lesson is incredibly important to teach at this age because it teaches students that while we may have different genetic makeup, race is not a reliable way to classify people and should not be used to make further assumptions. To demonstrate this for our activity we gave each clan a group of pictures featuring portraits of different people across the country. The students were then asked to classify each face into a certain racial category (white, black, asian, or hispanic) that they felt best described each picture. Some of these caused disagreement and confusion which led the students to question what exactly race must signify. Once they finished, we read the results of each picture out loud to the class and after each one at least one of the groups seemed to be shocked! They seemed to realize that race was not as black and white as they had assumed.

The Mighty Animal Dinosaurs trying to figure out where to place this woman…their final choice was incorrect!
“He looks hispanic!” “NO – he’s ASIAN!” “You guys are crazy, he’s white!”
Despite their best efforts NO CLAN got all, or even most, of the racial categories correct. Race isn’t so easy!

We used the remainder of our class period to color pictures of people from all over the world with different backgrounds and discussed why we should not categorize people in terms of the color of their skin. All in all, the class was successful and we have been so proud of our third graders these past seven weeks!

Evolution at TMSE – Adapting Animals by Madeline Anscombe

Today at TMSE we taught the students all about the theory of evolution and let them see how this theory transcends into their own lives. Teaching evolution was an important topic to teach our third graders because not only is it important when dealing with anthropology, but it allows us to see how each individual is somehow tied together.


A new animal has emerged! It has huge wings and a springy tail for getting away from predators

The lesson opened up with talking about the history of the theory and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species which took 22 years to write! Our young anthropologists learned that because evolution is a theory, it has been tested hundreds and hundreds of times and has never been proven false. This gave us some validation in order to support some examples of how different animals are able to change given different environmental factors. Our activity gave the students three different ecosystems to create made-up animals that have adapted to their environments.

This animal’s long legs and wings let it walk or fly over a rough terrain

The students got super creative! Some of the creatures included a “Billy Belly Bull” and a “Monkey Bird” which was able to camouflage in with its surroundings as well as used its arms and wings to steer clear from predators. When the students were able to explain the ways in which their animals had adapted to their environments, they got the opportunity to get crafty! Each student was supplied with a foam ball and crafting materials to bring their animals to life. Some of the students even asked for extra pipe cleaners to make tails for themselves so that they could match their new creations.


The elusive Pika-bunny is finally caught!

Primates at TMSE! by Mary Gibler

Students of the Might Animal Dinosaur Clan seated around a table

This past week, our lesson at TSME focused on Primates. We taught the students that monkeys, apes, and humans are all primates, surprising the class with a picture of them that we had taken the previous week to demonstrate the concept. To distinguish between monkeys and apes, we discussed the presence of tails in monkeys (some of which are prehensile), not apes, and why that tail might be beneficial for smaller apes based on their arboreal environment. We showed the students Indonesian apes, including a loris, gibbons, macaques, a proboscis monkey, a javan lutung, and an orangutan. This helped the students understand the context of primates in their environment and why they can find certain types of primates in different places. We asked the students why we study primates, and concluded that studying primates helps us to learn how to better save the environment while also teaching us important concepts about ourselves. We discussed that we study primates’ behaviors, social structures, genes and anatomy in order to better understand our own behaviors, social structures, genes and anatomies. To illustrate these similarities, we talked about how we share 90-95% of our genetic DNA with chimpanzees, and that primates are the only animals that have opposable thumbs, brachiating shoulders, and binocular vision. We emphasized these points through primate locomotion, in which we had students “walk like monkeys” by brachiating their shoulders and walking on their knuckles. We concluded the lecture on primate’s diets, by discussing herbivores, omnivores, and frugivores, and how the larger the primate, the more calories they need to consume in order to sustain their energy. Smaller primates eat bugs, while larger ones eat a lot of plants and fruits. We stressed the caloric value of small insects, plants, and fruits, which led into our activity.

Students of the Might Animal Dinosaur Clan seated around a table
Mighty Animal Dinosaur Clan

The activity, Meddling Monkeys, was effective at reiterating primate locomotion, diet, social structures, and environment. We had the students line up outside while we scattered construction paper around the classroom. Red paper symbolized fruit for 3 points (with the most caloric value) while green symbolized plants for 2 points, and yellow symbolized insects for 1 point. Each of the three clans had orange monkey babies on their tables and the rule was that one person had to guard the babies at all times, emphasizing the importance of social structures. The other members of the clan then ran around the room, gathering pieces of construction paper. They were only allowed to pick up one at a time, and they had to keep one hand on the ground at all times while walking on their knuckles to emphasize primate locomotion. After all of the pieces of construction paper were gathered, we tallied up the points and the winning team got to go first for the second part of the activity- eating crickets! The other student teachers and I spent the previous night with live crickets- first freezing and then baking them. We seasoned them separately with ranch, mac and cheese powder, and Cajun spices. At first, the students were hesitant but by the end every single one had tried a cricket and were coming back for seconds, even chanting for their teacher to try one. A University observer in the classroom said that her favorite part of the period was when we told the students that we were going to play the Meddling Monkeys game again and then eat more crickets and they all began to cheer.

A Meddling Monkey has found a leaf! 2 points!
Two Monkeys on the hunt







Overall, the lesson was successful. We asked the students at the end of the period to go over the concepts that they had learned and they gave insightful answers about why they had to guard the babies, walk on their knuckles, and the construction papers, or foods, had different point values. The only thing I would recommend for teachers attempting to perform this activity would be to explain the rules beforehand because once the students get started it turns into chaotic fun.

Seconds are much more appealing
The first taste of crickets is always the hardest…

Body Modification at TMSE by LaBethany Bradford

So this week at TMSE we learned about body modification! I was really excited to teach this class given that a lot of people think body modification is weird. But, it isn’t! I had to remind the students throughout the presentation that we also do body modification on a regular basis and that it is normal. To begin, I went over CLAP one last time, which stands for the four subfields of anthropology: cultural, linguistic, archaeology and physical. I then reminded them about our lesson on archaeology from last week and how it is the study of past people by examining things they left behind. To start off with body modification, I asked them what they thought it was and they gave me great answers! I was very pleased that they said it is when you change your body or get a tattoo. I then further explained to them that body modification can also be things like getting a piercing, tattoo or implants.

Some students wanted facial hair..
…while others wanted flowers







I then moved on to specific examples, starting with the oldest known tattoo, which was found on Otzi the Iceman. He has tattoos that date back to 3300 b.c.! I then gave examples of typical American body modification such as braces and tattoos and asked them if they knew anyone that had body modification. I then showed them other examples of body modification such as that of the Apatani women, the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia and finally that of the Kayan people. I had to explain that even though they may think it is weird, this is normal for their culture. I then moved on to showing them body modification seen in Indonesia, our topic region this semester, specifically tattoo tapping and teeth sharpening. Tattoo tapping is where they take two sticks, one which has a needle attached and is dipped in ink, that they tap together against the skin to create these beautiful tattoos about nature. I explained that tooth sharpening is done because the teeth were thought to represent anger, jealousy and other similarly negative emotions so they file them down. They were really intrigued by this.

Proudly showing off their body modifications! AND showing off an Anthro Day shirt!

After we wrapped up the presentation we moved on to our activity of giving them tattoos…. well not real ones. We used tattoo markers and temporary tattoos and gave the students whatever tattoos they wanted. Some of the tattoos the guys chose to get were bands across their foreheads, shields with their initials on them, and of course superhero characters. The girls got gold hearts, gold stars, and frozen tattoos even though they all agreed they really didn’t like frozen. They didn’t really have a preference of what they did not want – I think they honestly just enjoyed getting drawn on. They seriously enjoyed the activity and even gave me a tattoo. One of my students, sticking with the nature theme of the Indonesian tattoos, gave me a tattoo with my initial in the middle and then branched out vines and flowers onto my hand. I absolutely love teaching them and it seems as if they enjoy being taught by us. 

Bodies: Modified.


Archaeology, week 3! By LaBethany Bradford

For our third week at TMSE, we focused on Archaeology. But, before I started to teach them about archaeology I reviewed “CLAP.” CLAP stands for Cultural, Linguistic, Archaeology, and Physical. While teaching them about different archaeological sites of Indonesia the children started to ask many good questions. They also had really great answers for the questions I asked. One student in particular said that archaeology was the study of culture using the things they might have left behind. They also made great connections with the pictures from different archaeological sites in Indonesia. The site Candi Sukuh, for example, was compared to the Mayan pyramids and one of the students let me know that they originated in Mexico. They knew a lot more about archaeology than we anticipated and they are learning to make connections between the things we are teaching them.

Members of the Mighty Animal Dinosaurs carefully searching for artifacts
American Cheese is on the hunt as well




After teaching them about Archaeology, we did our activity. The kids used spoons and brushes to dig through plastic shoe boxes filled with layers of dirt and sand. In each layer of dirt and sand we had placed lots of different things: actual shark teeth, crystal quartz and fossilized bones that I had acquired from my job working in the Paleontology department. Each student got to keep three shark teeth, two quartz, and one fossilized bone. They really enjoyed the activity of digging like archaeologist and keeping there artifacts. They were saying they want to take this class again next year and they were showing off their “cool” artifacts to everyone they met. I can not wait for next week when we talk about body modification! Ciao Ciao.

Parker showing off his finds
Jeremiah got lots of fossils!

Ethnography at TMSE – Week 2 by Mary Gibler

For our second week at TMSE, we focused on ethnography. After a recap of the previous week’s focus on culture and the four subfields of anthropology, we explained that ethnography is a tool that anthropologists use to describe cultures. We showed pictures from Indonesian celebrations of the New Year, a marriage, a birthday party, and school uniforms to discuss the differences between cultures and further their understanding of ethnography as a descriptive research method. The students were enthusiastic about culture and caught on quickly to ethnography. One student even noted that while we might see aspects of certain cultures as weird, they might see our own cultural experiences the same way and that we shouldn’t judge differences. After the PowerPoint describing ethnographic methods, we focused back on the cultures we had created the previous week and asked the students to choose an ethnographer from their clan. Given a worksheet with questions, the ethnographers were sent to the different clans to interview them about their cultures. The student ethnographers then presented their research to the class.

Our Ethnographers describing the cultures of other clans

The students were excited to build their own understanding of culture and how easily it can be created and described. After the first activity, we played a game where one student was taken out of the classroom to change a small aspect of their appearance- an untying of a shoe, a rolling of a sleeve, a tucking of a shirt- and then sent back to the front of the classroom where the other students had to guess what had changed.

She looks…almost the same…OH I KNOW!

The student that guessed correctly was then taken outside and their appearance was changed. We cycled through changes until every student had a chance to go. The students loved this activity and easily grasped the concept of observation as an important ethnographic method.

Culture at TMSE – Week 1! By Madeline Anscombe

In our first class at TMSE, we met our twenty new anthropologists and divided into

clans. Over the course of the year, we will be using Indonesia as a model for our

lessons. In order to explain the clans, we used the model of the Javanese, whom

inhabit the largest island of Indonesia.


Once separated, we started our lesson on culture as well as a general overview of

the four kinds of anthropology. To remember this we used the acronym CLAP,

standing for cultural, linguistics, archaeology and physical. When we covered

cultural, the students had already learned a significant amount about what

constitutes a culture. Their answers ranged from more textbook definitions to more

comprehensive ones such as an acronym they had learned called the “Five F’s”

which included food, faith, family, finances and fashion. They were able to grasp the

concept of clans fairly easily as well and were excited to start the activity.

In our clans, we first came up with our names—the Fire Phoenix, American Cheese, and the

Mighty Animal Dinosaurs (we couldn’t decide if animals or dinosaurs were cooler so

we went with both).

A proud founding member of American Cheese

Other items on the worksheet included coming up with a

common ancestor and creating a rite of passage or a handshake. The students used

puffy paint and pom-poms to decorate individual pieces of felt which were

transformed into flags for their clans. Collectively, it was a great first day at TMSE. A

student even shared that she had always wanted to take another class but was super

excited that she ended up in Anthropology. I think we can look forward to a great

semester with our third graders this spring!

Fire Phoenix Flag!


Week 8 @ TMSE – Body Modification by Lisa Meister

In our final day of partnership, we explored the diverse world of body modification. I defined body modification as any deliberate act to change one’s physical appearance. When we looked at some examples from around the world like Nigerian earlobe stretching and Japanese teeth blackening, the students seemed shocked. They could not believe that someone would do that to themselves! I explained that in their communities, the modifications were more typical and held meaning. One very insightful student then noted that we all get our hair cut, and we see it as normal, though it may not be in other cultures.

Following in that theme, we considered the question: who modifies their bodies? Simply put, everyone does. I presented evidence from as far back in human history as 5,300 years in the form of Ötzi the Iceman and his 61 tattoos. We looked at examples of body modification in its many forms from a wide selection of cultures. Finally, we discussed examples of body modification in our own culture. The conclusion we reached was that people modify themselves in different and sometimes extreme ways in depending on the place, time, and situation, but modification itself is very normal.

I then queried the fledgling anthropologists: why? Why do people modify themselves? The kids gave a range of astute answers, because it’s beautiful, to express yourself, and to identify yourself, among them. I added that in some places body modifications are thought to connect people to the spirit world, or bring them closer to their ancestors. In other situations, body modifications mark people of a certain social status, using Polynesian chiefs and their full facial tattoos as an example. Finally, we delved deeper into the idea that people modify themselves to look beautiful. I pointed out that the idea of what is beautiful varies between and within cultures, so when people change themselves to look a certain way they are responding to their own cultural conditions. We hope that explaining that all communities have their own internal logic and meaning attached to their actions will help the students respond with tolerance when encountering people unlike them.

Then it was time to have some fun and do some of our own body modification. Students had the option to create their own tattoos, paint their faces, and adorn their hair with feathers and flowers.

Face painting and some impromptu hair coloring!
Face painting and some impromptu hair coloring!

At each of the stations they had the opportunity to look at examples from other cultures and the meanings they attached to their ornamentation. We thought the kids would take their cues from the examples, but most of them were keen to create their own styles.

Ella displays her new facial
Ella displays her new facial “tattoos”

I think they used the opportunity to express personal identity and creativity more than anything and evidently had fun doing it.

Our most Serious Anthropology Pose
Our most Serious Anthropology Pose

All in all, we had a great last day of a wonderful semester at TMSE. I know I learned a lot from the experience and hope the kids did too. I would like to thank everyone involved for making anthropology a fun and enlightening part of the TMSE partnership.

annnnnd a not so serious pose
annnnnd a not so serious pose

Week 7 @ TMSE – Race by Rochelle Williamson

This week our discussion was on “RACE”, which is a very complicated subject. Because of the complexities of the subject, students gained a wealth of information. The students learned that there are many different “RACES” of people throughout the world. Students were given the opportunity to come up before the class to point out the different “RACES” of people from across the world whose pictures were located on the PowerPoint Presentation screen. The students were very eager to display their knowledge. It was stressed that Anthropologists study people just like those shown and they also study other people from various parts of the world.

TMSE students also learned today, that the United States is called the “MELTING POT” because there are so many different kinds of people living here. A demographic racial breakdown of the “RACES” here in America were illustrated to the students which allowed the students to clearly see the racial diversity of our country. It is important that students are taught the origins of things, so the history behind the word “RACE” was shared. The word “RACE” first began to surface around the 15 th Century. People from Europe began to travel and explore the world. This period was called the AGE OF EXPLORATION. The word “RACE” was originally a Spanish word called “RAZA” which mainly referred to horse breeding. However, the English speaking people adopted this word to mean “race, ethnicity, breed, strain, and lineage.”

The main take-way from class today was that “RACE” is just a man-made word used for putting people into groups. Sometimes grouping people can be harmful and limit a group’s or an individual’s ability to become successful because they may not be given the same opportunities and resources as other groups. When this happens, the students learned that such negatives actions can be termed as “racism” which can ultimately lead to many negative stereotypes and myths. On the other hand, students were also shown that there are positive aspects of putting people into groups. An example of a benefit of grouping people can be seen when Anthropologists group various “RACES” so they can be studied. This process allows Anthropologists and other people the opportunity to learn a lot about a particular culture and see how well a group survives and thrives over time, as well as note when discrimination is present.

Students also learned that for all humans, “RACE” is not determined by Biology. All humans are all 99.9% the same. We have the same body structure: same number of bones, teeth, and organs. We also have similar genes and blood types which flows through our bodies. However, there are small differences in humans which are called HUMAN VARIATIONS. Such variations includes things like: face size, ear size, hair color, hair texture, eye shape, and etc. Students learned that these variations arose over time because of humans’ ability to adapt to their environment. The students learned that the closer ones lives to the equator the darker the skin color and farther away one lives from the equator the lighter the skin color. So, TMSE students were able to realize that geographical locations, climate, and weather all play important roles in determining the color of one’s skin and the shapes of one’s eyes as well as other bodily differences. The students learned that the human body’s ability to change with the environment is called HUMAN ADAPTATIONS.

Last, and certainly not least, students learned that being born or placed in any particular “RACE” does not limit what they or anyone can become in life. Students were shown famous, accomplished and even some ordinary people from all “walks of life”, and they were encouraged and motivated to believe that they could become whatever they desired in life, regardless of their “RACE” or skin color.

Students arguing over which person belonged to what race! They quickly learned this would not be so easy
Students arguing over which person belonged to what race! They quickly learned this would not be so easy

For Today’s Activity, we learned how using “RACE” as a grouping system, is not always an easy method. Deciding a “RACE” can become a confusing guessing game and students found this notion to be true when they played “THE RACE GUESSING GAME.” Students were given the option to choose from five possible racial identities (White, Black, Asian, American Indian and Hispanic). They were then instructed to place and glue their individual pictures onto one and only one possible category for their singular picture. Students were given a total of fifteen pictures to make their analysis. Much to their surprise, most students found the process to be somewhat complicating and confusing because there were just so many similarities among the faces of the various races. The students could not find true definitive separations among the various “RACES” pictured and were unable to identify all pictures correctly. Nevertheless, I think “THE RACE GUESSING GAME”, as a whole was an enjoyable and an enlightening experience for all the TMSE students. I enjoyed teaching this class today!


Glueing down the answers before we revealed how the individuals in the photos ACTUALLY identify
Glueing down the answers before we revealed how the individuals in the photos ACTUALLY identify