Yesterday, I had a the great pleasure of sharing the radiocarbon dating activity that I developed last year as a Michigan Communication Fellow at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History with several students from the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa from the Petoskey area. In this activity, I walk students through hypothesis formation, relative dating, and absolute dating via AMS. I try to bring examples of artifacts that students can easily identify and I always bring a slide show with some of my best field photos.
I love doing outreach activities like these here at the University of Michigan. I've interacted with people of all ages, and everyone is excited to hold artifacts (though most of mine are just replicas). While my cardboard box AMS machine is not very sophisticated (as an elderly activity participant once pointed this out to me), it provides a simple way of generating data that students of all ages can interact with.
This is the first time I've taken this activity "on the road" outside of Ann Arbor. I was invited by the University of Michigan chapter of SACNAS, an organization devoted to advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in the sciences. I was so grateful for this opportunity because I feel that it's important to share the excellent training that I've received with people outside of the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor community. Additionally, the middle schoolers we shared a variety of scientific activities with, from dentistry to neuroscience to paleontology, are at a critical age for STEM engagement and we need more Native American scientists in the academy. Sven Haakenson, on the poster behind me, is one of the few indigenous Alaskan anthropologists. In short, I hope that some of the middle schoolers left excited to know more about each of the stations they visited and I'm thankful I was able to be there.
Bree is an Alaskan Archaeologist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming.