Archaeology Learning Experience Day

(By Erica Ause)

For those of you who do not know, once a month the school does something called a Learning Experience Day. On these days, we get the whole student body together to learn a topic outside of the curriculum. In the past we have done water filtration, solar power, mushrooms, astronomy, the eye, construction, and much more. This month we learned about archaeology. The students started out with a visit to a virtual archaeology museum and then did their own exploration of how archaeologists use what they discover and know about the time to try and understand the purposes behind what they find. Following this, they went outside and dug in the garden and the sandbox to find the objects previously hidden there. They found things like candles, broken pottery, napkin holders, pieces of trash, bottle caps, and many other random household object.

Next, the kids got to try their hands at making their own pottery. We used homemade clay, taught them the age old method of starting with a snake and winding it up to make the cup, bowl, plate, or whatever else one might want to make.

Following this activity, we headed up to the village where the Batwa people live. This group of people is known for the pottery that they make. See the pictures below of the final products they produce.

Before the pots are fired
After they are fired 

As we watched the potters at work, the kids and adults alike were amazed at their ability to make almost perfect pots using only their hands, old bits of broken pottery, and cloth, in less than 10 minutes each. We were even more blown away given that we had just experienced how hard it actually is to make anything out of clay! I think the pictures say more than my words can, so please see the images and videos below of these talented women at work.

After they made the pots, they showed us how they fired them. First they got some brush, caught it on fire, and put it inside each pot to cook that part. Once the insides were done, they put the pots on top of the huge fire pit, there more brush on top to create a kind of oven and let the outsides of the pots cook until they were done. For me, the most amazing aspect of this part was how they not only knew the correct amount of time to have the pots in the fire, but they knew the right amount of brush to put on the fire pit so they would be surrounded by flames for the known amount of time. Again, pictures are better than my words, so please enjoy the ones posted below.

Thankfully, they let us buy some of their pots before we headed back home, and got in a picture with us.

I don’t have a picture of this, but some of the pots have a design on the top that looks like a bunch of little dots all over it. In order to make this design, they take a bit of a banana leaf stalk, braid it over itself, and then use that to roll the design on. The women also told us that they can also make this tool out of pieces of their metal roofs.

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