One hundred and twenty primary school students delved into the history of Tasmania’s North-West during a National Science Week archaeology activity presented by the Cradle Coast campus.
Equipped with trowels and brushes, children aged between five and 12 years participated in the simulated Pop-up Kids’ Dig, unearthing local artefacts from sand while learning about colonial and Aboriginal cultures of the past.
The event, held at the Makers’ Workshop at West Park on Saturday, 19 August, was facilitated with the help of School of Education Lecturer in Humanities and Social Sciences Dr Louise Zarmati, who is also an archaeologist with experience working in Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Australia.
As a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellow in 2013, she helped excavate the remains of an Australian World War One soldier in Belgium.
“In keeping with the ‘future earth’ theme of National Science Week, this activity presented archaeology as a science where participants could analyse knowledge about the past to help inform them about the present and future,” Dr Zarmati said.
“A number of inquiry stations were established which allowed the children to retrieve colonial artefacts such as crockery and forks from an excavation site and then examine them. They also applied problem-solving to identify certain rooms of a simulated colonial house by assessing the nature of the artefacts within those spaces.
“The great thing about archaeology is that it is interdisciplinary, incorporating the themes of history, literacy, science and mathematics, so this was really a fantastic learning opportunity.”
University of Tasmania Associate Lecturer in Indigenous Health Sharon Dennis said the activity importantly included the cultural conservation of the region’s Aboriginal artefacts, heritage and sites.
“During the event I discussed the importance of Country, respect of sites and why it is important to leave Aboriginal artefacts where they are,” Ms Dennis said.
“I also spoke about cultural living sites and their significance today and for the future, as well as Indigenous intellectual rights.”
Cradle Coast campus Arts and Public Programs Coordinator Joanna Gair said it was pleasing to see the event fully booked after an inundation of registrations.
“The original impetus behind this exciting cross-campus event was a chance meeting between myself and Dr Zarmati. I had the privilege of hearing her speak and was so inspired by her presentation that I approached her about contributing to a community event in the North-West and to my great joy, she agreed,” Ms Gair said.
“The community really got behind this event; I think the strong appeal has been the mix of history, art and science, combined with the mystery of unearthing 'treasure’.”
Other staff supporting the activity included University of Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Advisor David Gough, University postgraduate research student and Ogilvy High School teacher Sarah Stockwin, and the Aspirations and Evaluations Coordinator from the Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment, Karen Eyles, who arranged for local participants of the Children’s University Tasmania program to attend.
The Cradle Coast campus facilitated the Kids’ Dig event with the support of a $500 National Science Week grant.