Thursday, September 27, 2018

Week 2

A few highlights from our second week of school...

...meeting the new 2nd grade class pet - a crested gecko lizard named Luna.

...making arguments for the best class name choice: after several rounds of voting and several impassioned speeches about which name we should choose, we decided on "The Olympians."

...and, of course, making things during "genius hour" on Friday afternoon!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Team Building

The Supernovas (3-4) and the Olympians (4-5) needed a brain break during those first long days of school, so we headed out to the playground for a little team building exercise. Students on opposing teams jumped a hula-hoop trail toward each other until they met, then did "Rock, Paper, Scissors" to see which team member would advance.

In the end, it didn't really matter who won -- it was so much fun, we all did! -- but we sure know how to solve any decision-making dilemmas that come up in the future!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Day 1: INQUIRY - The "Mystery Cemetery"

We started our study of Archaeology with an inquiry investigation from the Archaeological Institute of America entitled "The Mystery Cemetery."

We examined a simulated excavation site, looking at a cluster of tombs to determine patterns and details that would tell us about the people buried there. We knew the size of the skeleton indicated age, the artifacts (beads, washers, etc.) in each tomb were worn by the person in their lifetime, and we knew screws represented weapons carried by the person.

We needed to find out 1) the gender  2) the age, and 3) the social status of each skeleton.
First, we took notes on what we saw, noticing things like the fact that all of the people with "weapons" (screws) were facing south, and all of the people with pots for grave markers were facing north.
We also noticed there were different artifacts and different amounts of artifacts in different tombs, and that the coffins were different sizes.

Next, after recording all our observations, we shared our thoughts in small groups, discussing different ideas and trying to come up with inferences about the people in the cemetery, supported by the facts we were given and the observations we made. 

We noticed all the tombs with weapons had no pots and were facing south, so we thought those must all be male. We knew all the artifacts in each tomb were things that had been worn by that person in life, so the tombs with more artifacts, we decided, were the tombs of higher social status individuals.

We determined that women were buried in the tombs that had long, narrow coffins, which were all facing north, and they all had pots for gravestones and no weapons. We determined that women with more colorful pots were more wealthy, or of a higher social status, than the ones on the tombs with plain pots.

It was not easy (or comfortable) to figure out the meanings of things like which way the skeletons were facing. We made plenty of wild guesses and got some things wrong. Ultimately though, we realized how important it is for archaeologists to look at finds in connection and comparison to the other things found around them. Thinking like an archaeologist, it turns out, is no easy feat. It requires a lot of comfort with uncertainty, as there is ultimately no 100% complete, correct answer.

We learned how to recognize inferences or educated guesses supported by fact vs. wild guesses, which were often more interesting to think about. What a fantastic lesson in critical thinking and a great start to a year of "Advancement!"

Evolution & Archaeology Overnight Field Study: Sun Banks Cabins

We roasted S'mores and told stories around the fire. The cabins were nice and we got great cabin mates. There was a lake that people ...