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Public Education Committee


Associate Editor's Note: The Public Education Committee (PEC) strives to meet the needs of many constituencies through its subcommittees. Our efforts take various forms and updates on several are provided below. We're also pleased to present the second in a series of thematic articles that focus on issues related to precollegiate archaeology education programs and the use of simulated or actual excavation experiences. The articles were selected from the SAA Public Education Committee-sponsored symposium "Should Kids Dig? The Ethics of Children Digging in Real or Sand Box Sites" that was organized by Megg Heath for the 61st Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Although focused on precollegiate education, these studies raise a host of issues that are relevant to those of us who are asked to work with a teacher or children's groups, present a program at a school, conduct a hands-on program for an Archaeology Week session, or work with a state or regional professional organization in developing educational materials and programs for use by educators.

Archaeology Education Handbook to be Published by AltaMira Press

The many years of effort by the SAA PEC have resulted in enhanced curriculum materials and resources available for teachers and students, lesson plans and instructional media for archaeologists working with the public, and much improved communications between educators and archaeologists. Yet to date, there has been no instruction manual or textbook to consult on how teaching and archaeology intersect.

SAA is cooperating with AltaMira Press to produce the first handbook for archaeologists on how to effectively reach K-12 students and teachers in U.S. and Canadian educational systems. Sharing the Past With Kids: The Archaeology Education Handbook, edited by PEC members Karolyn E. Smardz and Shelley J. Smith, includes contributions by 27 veteran teachers and archaeology educators. Written for archaeologists, the book explains the "culture" of the education system, discusses the interface between education and archaeology, forewarns of sensitive and inflammatory issues, and provides real-world examples of a variety of successful archaeology education programs. Throughout, the emphasis is on exemplary programming that meets the needs of students, educators, and archaeologists in a realistic, achievable manner. Sharing Archaeology with Kids is scheduled for publication in spring 1999.

Adventures, Mysteries, Discoveries, and Archaeology in Chicago

Carol J. Ellick

What could a 1,400-year-old neighborhood, a 1911 shipwrecked steam barge, and the adventures of Dirk Pitt have to do with one another? Well, if you have ever read one of Clive Cussler's adventure novels, this question is not as far-fetched as you think!

This year's SAA Public Session at the Annual Meeting will present stories of human behavior, adventure, mystery, and discovery on Saturday, March 27, 1999, from 2-5 p.m. (doors open at 1:30 p.m.) at the Field Museum of Natural History. The session is designed for an interested public but should be of equal interest to professional archaeologists.

The session features three fascinating lectures. Mark Mehrer (Northern Illinois University) will take us back through time for "A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood" that occurred sometime between A.D. 300 and 700, as several Late Woodland families moved to the banks of the Rock River in northern Illinois. Their small village, consisting of huts around a courtyard, was occupied for only a short span of 2 to 10 years. Because of this relatively brief occupation, we get a clear snapshot of variability in ancient domestic and village life. How can two families from the same "neighborhood" be so different?

Hawk Tolson (Michigan State University Center for Maritime and Underwater Management) will help us time travel to a mishap on Lake Michigan 1400 years later. "The Last Voyage" begins during a storm in 1911 and ends in spring 1996, when a landslide on South Manitou Island exposed the largely intact hull of the steam barge Three Brothers. A wealth of documentary and photographic evidence, along with testimony from the daughter of the U.S. Life Saving Service officer who rescued the crew, have allowed a detailed reconstruction of the events of that last voyage: While hauling lumber from Boyne City, Michigan to Chicago in 1911, she was deliberately run aground to prevent her from sinking during a gale. Be a part of the welcoming committee as tale of the Three Brothers' last journey finally makes it to Chicago.

Our keynote speaker, Clive Cussler, will divulge his secrets in "Outrageous Adventures and Grains of Truth." Cussler, author of 15 adventure novels and one nonfiction book--Sea Hunters--will talk about the intrigue and the mystery surrounding the discovery of sunken ships. With him, we will travel from the very real and chilling underwater depths of sunken ships to the outrageous adventures of his fictional hero, Dirk Pitt. Wrapped by the thrilling escapades of Dirk Pitt and the National Underwater Marine Agency (NUMA) is a grain of truth. In actuality, Cussler has created NUMA as the mechanism to participate in the adventures himself. Credited with the discovery of more than 60 lost ships, he can be applauded for leaving them where they lay. Following the session, Cussler will sign books.

At tables in the museum's lobby, those interested in getting involved in public archaeology can speak with representatives from state and national organizations who will be available to answer questions and offer information on their programs.

Carol J. Ellick, a member of the Public Session Subcommittee, is with Statistical Research, Inc., in Tucson, Arizona.

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