A few weeks ago the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History hosted Archaeology Day, a biannual event during which local middle school classes visit the museum and participate in different activity stations scattered throughout the building. This year, Abagail Breidenstein and I coordinated with Museum staff in order to test out some new bioarchaeological stations, and had a great time identifying bones and estimating the sex of crania with lots of excitable 7th graders.
We developed two new stations for this archaeology day. Abagail used casts of human crania and figures from Buikstra and Ubelaker’s Standards to teach students about how anthropologists can assess the sex of an individual feature using the appearance of the cranium and mandible.
I was determined to showcase the horse skull from our Zooarchaeology lab – veteran of many past Archaeology and Behind the Scenes days, and one of my favorite faunal specimens from our archaeology collections. To that end, I put together a station focused on differentiating human and animal bones, that also taught students how to calculate how many people are buried in a given place.
Developing these new activity stations was part of a larger initiative on part of the Biological Anthropology Graduate Students association (BAGS, for short). We are currently aiming to get a number of outreach projects off of the ground, from drawing exchanges between schools all over the world, to giving talks about anthropology research at local schools.
We’re using our new website as a repository for outreach activities and resources. If you’d like a copy of the bioarchaeology activity station handouts and guides, they are available for download here on our outreach page:
If you have suggestions for further outreach activities, or are looking for advice on running your own museum day, feel free to contact any of the BAGS Exec.
On that note, Happy Thanksgiving! May your long weekend (and mine) be filled with several pounds of sugar.