Colonial Middle School (CMS) sixth graders recently went on an archeological dig — searching for artifacts in colorful chocolate chip cookies.
“They are ‘excavating’ a Chips Ahoy Candy Blast cookie using toothpicks, wooden dowels or forks,” said Social Studies Teacher Mary Dicciani, who personally delivered the special cookies to several of her students. “This is all happening from home. They're super excited.”
The young archeologists carefully removed the soil (the cookie part) to extract the fossils and artifacts (the colored chips). Yellow chips represented pottery shards. Blue chips were stones and tools. Orange chips were fur. Green chips were food remains. Red chips were shells, and brown chips were bones.
“I now have a new appreciation for archeologists,” said CMS Sixth Grader Taylor Bryan. “I think they need a lot of patience. It was really hard trying to get the chips out in one piece.”
The students also recorded their findings and then created a hypothesis about their excavation site, including who lived there and the kinds of lives they led, based on what they found.
“My excavation site was in Italy from 2,000 years ago,” said CMS Sixth Grader Jackson Gordy. “The Bubonic Plague had struck, and there were many bones inside of the catacombs. The plague killed many and there were close to 30 skeletons in there. A lot were missing or decomposed. We had even found tools in there. Pottery shards, too.”
“I think my excavation site belonged to pioneers. The excavation site was at Valley Green,” said CMS Sixth Grader Gracie Kerns. “I found some food remains which could have been theirs, pottery shards that they could have used for bowls or plates, stone weapons that could have been used to hunt animals and bones that were the remains of the animal they could have hunted. The shell I found could have been used as jewelry.”
The project incorporates the STEAM concepts of hands-on learning, interdisciplinary lessons and making connections to the real world.
“I think it is very cool to find pieces of history, and it's all in the ground,” said CMS Sixth Grader Amelia Johnson. “We don't really know how people lived a long time ago. When we find artifacts from then, we know a little bit more about how they lived.”