By Heather Dixon
The “Archaeology Experience” (AE) activity at ATARC has now been running for two years, since I first met with OPSSE (Office of Prospective Students and Student Equity) staff about the School providing an outreach activity for highschool groups they bring in, and it continues to grow and flourish. I have expanded our contacts with other staff in OPSSE, other org units including ATSIS and HAPI, and have coordinated combined programs with these units as well as hosting highschool groups who come to us direct, having either received our promotional materials or heard about AE via ‘word of mouth’. The AE is a hands-on activity where students excavate and analyse artefacts including stone, bone, metal and glass, and it helps them gain a broad understanding about how archaeology integrates and bridges issues of the past, present and future, along with learning how archaeology contributes to a sustainable community where cultural heritage is valued. The AE activity was developed by Chris Clarkson and is facilitated by some of our PhD and Honours students who have also provided input into further development of the activity. Current facilitators are Xavier Carah, Antoine Muller, Jaydeyn Thomas, Anna Florin, Anne Dighton, Dale Simpson, Jessica Heidrich and Courtney Culley.
In the last two years, we have had 1630 school students participate in the AE activity, and I have received a lot of very positive feedback – I have listed some of it at the end of this article. The coordination of the program has increasing taken up more of my time and so I am very pleased to currently be assisted by Emilija Nicolosi who has written risk assessments and looks after ATARC facility requirements, and Anne Dighton who is assisting with the coordination of facilitator rosters, documentation, and is also working with Chris Clarkson in updating workbooks and activity design. The School is also developing new outreach activities which will link in with the national curriculum for schools - this is being overseen by Andy Fairbairn who was successful in obtaining some seed money from HASS and the School/UQCHU for development costs. I have also been asked by OPSSE if the School could offer an outreach activity in criminology, so there are more outreach opportunities for us to work on. AE feedback:
“To Heather, Antoine…. Thanks again for a wonderful weekend just gone. The students learned a lot and felt validated in studying ancient history.” Whitsunday Anglican School teacher [these students also attended the Jay Hall Lecture]
“Just wanted to say thank you for the archaeology workshop conducted for Tagai State College on Monday morning. The staff all did a great job of tailoring the activity to the group of students and feedback from the school teachers and students was very positive. The staff [Anne & Anna] were all wonderful, they were very accessible, communicated effectively with the students and engaged everybody in the activities.” ATSIS Unit outreach officer
“Just want to pass on my thanks to your team at the Archaeology activity this morning. In particular your presenter, Dale, did a very good job at keeping a very excited group of year 7 students focussed and engaged throughout the entire morning….. [and] the other presenters… also did a fantastic job too. We hope to see them all again on future Archaeology Experience Days.” OPSSE outreach officer
“I wanted to say thank you to you and your staff for your assistance in running the Archaeology activities for our Experience Days this semester. The feedback from our schools has been positive, especially in regards to your two male staff [Chris Lovell & Xavier] that facilitated the activity on 18 November” OPSSE outreach officer
“Thank you for letting all of us from SDE come spend the day at UQ. We had a good time. I really liked the Archaeological dig, it was fun to dig in the dirt and find things that we didn’t know where [sic] there. Thanks for all of the food too, lunch was GREAT!” Charleville School of Distance Education student writing to Professor Middleburg who hosted their visit. [This AE activity was facilitated by Marie Vlahos & Janet Sypkens.]
“Thank you for organising lunch at the University of Queensland for the Charleville School of Distance Education Camp students. I had a very good time at the University, particularly the archaeological dig. The lunch was excellent and I would like to say thank you for organising it.” Charleville School of Distance Education student writing to Professor Middleburg who hosted their visit.