ESU Professors, Students to Work With Allentown Seventh-Graders at Archaeological Dig in Bath

Posted by: jrivera on May 2, 2013, No Comments

East Stroudsburg University professors and students will be helping Allentown seventh-graders take part in an actual archaeological dig at the Governor Wolf homestead in Bath on May 4.

Students from Harrison-Morton Middle School will be digging for artifacts on the grounds of the home and one-room schoolhouse of the former Gov. George Wolf, who served as Pennsylvania’s governor 1829-1835 and was a pioneer in public education for all children.

The late 18th century homestead is at 6600 Jacksonville Road in Bath at the intersection of Route 512 and Jacksonville Road. The dig will run 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Nicknamed the Big Dig, the project has been months in the making. Last October, Dr. Doug Lare, an ESU Professional and Secondary Education professor, took some of his students to Harrison-Morton to supervise seventh-graders on a simulated dig on the middle school grounds.

The college students buried items near the school and had the middle-schoolers dig them up using proper archaeological procedure for documenting finds.

Then the middle schoolers had to use critical thinking skills to try to figure out what those items – which included a crown and tablet with coded writing – indicated about the culture they came from.  Their teacher, Lucia LeVan, said the kids had a great discussion over what the finds revealed and are looking forward to doing the same at the real dig.

“As we’re studying things that happened in the nation, this will give students an idea how this area played a key role in our nation’s history,” said LeVan. “It not only brings history alive but it’s something they’ll never forget.”

Dr. Lare, who spearheaded the project, sees it as a great lesson for his secondary education students in how to get the community and local organizations involved in lessons when they have their own social studies classes to teach.

“I’m planting the seeds so that these ESU students will see it’s possible and valuable,” Lare said.

On April 19, Lare and ESU Early Childhood Education associate professor Dr. Alison Rutter worked with their students and four Harrison Morton students on using ground-penetrating radar to figure out the best places to dig for artifacts at the homestead.

The Governor Wolf Historical Society, which gave permission for the project, will keep whatever artifacts are found during the exploration.

Dr. Rutter, who along with Dr. Michael P. Gray, assistant professor of history,  helped get a small grant to video the dig for viewing by other students, said the Gov. Wolf home and school is especially apropos because he was such an advocate for free public education for all children.

“For the middle schoolers to be able to come up here and compare their school to this one room school, it’s incredible,” Rutter said.

The experience will make ESU students better teachers, she said.

 “If they don’t experience teaching like this, they’re not going to do when they go out in their own classrooms,” Rutter said.

A major grant that funded the video was awarded by the ESU Office of the Provost and the ESU Faculty Development and Research (FDR) committee. For more information on the archaeological dig, please contact Dr. Lare at 570-422-3431 or by email at dlare@esu.edu.