Monday, June 28, 2010

Promoting Archaeological Science to Kids (With Jello?)

A colleague of mine recently published an article on how to inspire kids to enjoy and learn about microfluidics (his research area). He was able to translate complex physics and engineering concepts through the use of dyed water and Jello, and a well thought-out lesson plan for two different groups of students. Although his research is not directly related to archaeological science per se, this article speaks to the to the value of hands-on experiments in education. Many science educators talk about “hands-on science”, and Lagally and his colleagues summarize this concept very well in the introduction of the article:

“Most of us, being educators or researchers in science and technology, remember a defining moment in our adolescent years that sparked a life-long interest and passion in this field. It may have been performing an oxidation-reduction reaction; it may have been building an electronic circuit; or it may have been watching cells divide under a microscope. Regardless of the subject matter, one thing these pivotal moments have in common is that they are all examples of hands-on education.”

(Cheng Wei T. Yang, Eric Ouellet, Eric T. Lagally. Using Inexpensive Jell-O Chips for Hands-On Microfluidics Education. Analytical Chemistry, 2010) (Photo Credit American Chemical Society)

I would ask the blog readers out there- what was your defining moment that sparked your interest in archaeological science? And, how do you translate that to young scientists? What are some of your favorite household materials to use to teach archaeological science and to make it accessible to students and teachers?

I have volunteered in schools in several districts in several places in the US and Australia and presented to elementary school and high school groups and in-between, with different hands-on activities. What sort of hands-on activities have you used successfully to teach and promote archaeological science to kids? I am curious to see other responses.

Friday, June 18, 2010

GeoRaman 2010

GeoRaman 2010 is coming up in a couple of weeks, from 28th June- 2nd July, at the Australian Museum in Sydney, Australia. While the conference covers the application of Raman spectroscopy in the Earth Sciences, one whole day (Tuesday, 29th June) is devoted to the applications of Raman to archaeology.

The website and program have the details, but here are some highlights:

Archeology Chairperson: Peter Vandenabeele

9:00 - 9:40 Plenary Howell Edwards Raman Spectroscopic Analysis of Archaeological Artefacts: The

Illumination of Ancient Mysteries.

9:40 - 10:00 Contributed Linda Prinsloo Recreating a Stone Age artist's"paint box"

10:00 - 10:20 Contributed Annelien Deneckere Raman spectroscopy, supplemented with two other techniques, as tool

to gather information about the mediaeval manuscript 'Liber Floridus'.

10:20 - 10:40 Contributed Nicoleta Vornicu Raman Spectrometry in Cultural Heritage

Glasses Chairperson: Jean Dubessy

13:30 - 14:10 Plenary Ludovic Bellot-Gurlet Si-O glasses and Fe-O nano-structured phases in cultural heritage materials: insight from Raman procedures

14:10 - 14:30 Contributed Elizabeth Carter Raman Spectroscopy of Fulgurites

14:30 - 14:50 Contributed Sarah Kelloway Raman Mapping of Australian Colonial Glazes

There are also some posters in the Archaeology section, so check out those titles as well!