One of the most amazing things about archaeology is the way it ties everyone together by engaging and interesting people from all walks of life. I would argue that very few people dislike archaeology and I have yet to meet one of these people. The archaeology field is so unique with archaeologists using science to solve mysteries and better understand a past that is sometimes lost to us. When we, as a staff, began developing field trip ideas for St. Luke’s in late 2016, using archaeology as a theme seemed like the perfect way to inspire students and teachers from all over Hampton Roads.
And so, a new program was born. “Beyond Artifacts: Exploring Colonial Virginia” gained forward momentum in 2017 as we began reaching out to friends in the Isle of Wight County School system to ask questions like, “The curriculum of which grade level would benefit most from an archaeology-themed field trip?” and “What Standards of Learning could this field trip support?” The outcome of these discussions was a field trip designed to explore what archaeology can tell us about life in Colonial Virginia, intended to support the public school curriculum of 4th graders. The field trip has 3 separate but related activities that include study of the architecture of St. Luke’s Church with a focus on what the architectural style can tell us about the time period, a hands-on archaeology simulation where students will learn the basic practices of archaeologists, and a visit to a local archaeological dig site to speak with real archaeologists.
We had big dreams for this program and quickly became concerned about the cost, both to us as well as to the school system. As a 501c(3) non-profit, our next course of action was to see if we could secure the overall funding we needed to make this field trip as affordable as possible to all parties involved. The hunt for grants began. As of June of 2018, we have a total of $7,500 in grant money to begin building and testing this field trip. In the Spring of 2019, we had Isle of Wight County public school students out to St. Luke’s for the first year of this field trip. The trip cost the Isle of Wight County Schools nothing with this funding. Thank you to the Titmus Foundation for their $2,500 grant and to the Howard W. & Katherine L. Gwaltney Foundation for granting us $5,000 towards this project. As I wrote earlier, we have big dreams for this field trip and hope that it will become an annual trip that supports the curriculum of local school children for years to come.