On a cold fall morning at Baker Beach, sixth graders uncovered artifacts from underwater and planetary civilizations in "The Dig," an annual project that bridges social studies and art.
With sunlight glinting through gradually thinning storm clouds, Convent sixth graders were digging with their hands at Baker Beach, intent to excavate and decode a treasure trove of archaeological discoveries.
Over the past few months, students have been studying ancient civilizations in Social Studies while creating imaginary cultures with artifacts in Art class. Small teams developed a series of relics with an accompanying Rosetta Stone, which had secrets of the civilization inscribed for the other groups to unlock.
"This project allows them to experience the cultural universals that all civilizations share," says Casey Vogel, Convent sixth grade faculty. "I believe any time the girls see their classes overlapping, it helps make the learning more authentic and engaging."
The sixth graders arrived at the beach and spent the next hour carefully burying their civilizations. Then, the teams of junior archaeologists set about excavating the buried artifacts and uncovering the civilizations created by their peers. The girls carefully explored the sites; one recording the size, depth and description of each object while the others took measurements and plunged deeper into the sand pits.
"The Rosetta Stone generated the most excitement," Casey says. "When they only had one artifact left to find, they got incredibly excited. When it was finally found, they would yell, from pit to pit, to tell the other groups what they'd discovered."
After a tiring morning at the beach, students returned to their classroom laboratory to analyze and discover the artifacts. To conclude the unit, the girls presented their civilizations to parents at "Museum Night" on November 16.
"Throughout the fall term, students discovered how art helps us understand different cultures and time periods," says Suzanne Miazga, Convent Visual Arts faculty. "The project creates an appreciation for how artifacts and art tell a story."