Summer ended awhile ago for us here at the ARCLab, and we have been experimenting and researching more than just amazing artifacts and new technology.
This semester, we are working on putting together an expansion of last year’s ARC Smart, which, for those of you who just joined us at Hunter Blatherer, is USC Archaeology’s premier outreach program. Partnered with LAUSD and the Joint Education Project at USC, we bring in real artifacts from Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia, and Egypt to kids within the LAUSD to give them hands-on museum experiences and to get them thinking critically like professional archaeologists. This semester is exciting for all of us, and we are reaching more classrooms, more kids and helping their social studies classes come to life.
I’m personally thrilled to be part of this program. I remember being so nervous going in to my first session with the kids from a local magnet school, and I’m pretty sure they could smell it on me. I had rehearsed what to say about my set of cuneiform tablets, knew all the little intricacies about them and thought about ways to make the ancient words mean something to them. Beyond getting my facts straight, I craved their approval. I remember the attitude I had when I was 12, and was terrified that they would eat me alive. Who knew that the esteem of middle schoolers was so precious and so daunting? By the second session we had with them, they knew my name. By the third, they said I was “cool”. They told me they wanted to be writers, doctors, physical therapists (who work for the Lakers), teachers. I fielded their questions about college (“Do you have a car? (Yes) Do you live with your boyfriend? (No, I live in the ARCLab!) Do you go to sleep whenever you want? (No, my schoolwork doesn’t let me!)”) . They all want to go to college, and I told them to keep up their grades and they certainly will. It was almost heartbreaking to think that the year was ending by that point and “my kids” were all growing up into 7th grade.
This Friday we’re having an info session for students (undergrad & grad) interested in giving a little bit of their time to these kids, making some new friends, and giving them a chance to get behind the museum glass and interact with real artifacts. The session is in ACB 330 (the ARC conference room) from 12-2 PM. Refreshments will be served, and fresh ideas will be taken as well. The only requirement is enthusiasm for archaeology!