CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Sixth grader Hannah Ayre gets instruction from sixth grade teacher John Wangler during the dig.
After the Clovis Christian School middle school academy read about, etched, fossilized, researched and wrote about archaeology, they got on their hands and knees and did it themselves Wednesday at the east campus.
The project, which incorporated fifth through eighth grade, was the first big project the school has done after implementing the middle school academy at the beginning of the school year. The academy integrates arts, world history and Biblical history, reading, writing and math across the curriculum and provides individualized education for fifth through eighth graders.
On Wednesday, about 60 students and four teachers took to their own area of the dig site and began to implement what they’ve learned over the past month. Students used spades to remove layers of dirt, collect it and sift through it to find small artifacts.
Teachers each buried an artificial artifact for the students to find. Fifth grade teacher Bruce Vincent said the project took place in a class called project-based learning.
“Through this project we are learning science and history. We’re learning about archaeology and ancient civilizations,” Vincent said.
The classes studied how to properly perform an archaeology dig.
“The artifacts represent the ancient civilization of the Sumarians,” Vincent said. “When we dig them up, the students will research them and find out more about the culture they came from.”
Vincent said the students experience what it’s like to be an archaeologist. The project was done to provide students hands-on exposure to the things they read.
Seventh grade teacher Jaimie Van Dam said the project is the kind of thing the academy was made for.
“It’s different to combine a wide variety of maturity ages,” she said. “But it’s great to get the kids working toward a common goal.”
Van Dam said hands-on is the way students should be learning.
“Research tells us kids learn by doing. At this age, they can’t do really except if we set them up in school,” she said. “They’re having a ball out here.”
Eighth grader John Parela said it was fun to see what actual archaeologists do.
“It’s better than just hitting the books page by page,” he said.
Seventh grader Tamera Anderson said she enjoyed it.
“I feel like I learned more because I experienced it,” she said.
Principal Linda D’Amour said the students learned how a fossil is made, viewed real fossils, visited the Blackwater Draw museum and dig site.
The project included art, science, writing, music, research, history, vocabulary and reading.
“They read it to get the information, they experience by doing it and they applied what they learned,” she said. “When you do it, you own it. The highest level of learning is when you are to apply it.”
The project continues today.