Odyssey of the Mind Curriculum Activity:
Digging for Clues
Objective: Learn about archeology and dating methods through humor and team activities.
Students will learn: archeology, dating methods and critical thinking.

Prep Time

30 minutes

-- Class
-- Small groups

Art supplies - paper, markers, colored pencils, modeling clay, etc.

Everyday objects to be used as props and costumes.
Activity 1
Learning about the past can be intriguing. Scientific archeologists use creative thinking to devise dating methods in order to learn from their discoveries. Ask students to research archeology. Then, as a class, create a list of qualities it takes to be a successful archeologist. For example, an archeologist has to be curious.

Discuss the importance of using context clues and statistics in archeology. Also, relative vs. absolute dating. Then have students research the various methods and tools archeologists use to determine the age of their discoveries. What were beginning tools and techniques? What are modern techniques? What things are still in use? Discuss the benefits and limitations of each of these methods.

Activity 2
Divide the class into 3 groups in order to create their own archeological discovery. Research objects from a historic time or place, for example, ancient Egypt, and then recreate them in drawings or models. Each group should choose five and present their drawings/models to the class. They should also choose an archeological method to determine its age. The rest of the class can use this information, along with context clues to guess the object's purpose.

Were the guesses correct? After the true purpose of the object is revealed, try to think of the most creative alternative use for it.

Activity 3
With all of the technological advances in archeology, it is still possible to make mistakes when it comes to finding the true purposes of ancient findings. As a class, create a play about archeological identification and dating. It should be set in the future, where the characters discover ruins and remnants from today and misinterpret their use and/or purpose. The class should think of humorous misinterpretations for objects of their choosing. They should also incorporate the skills learned in the previous activities.

Have the class perform the play as an assembly for the school and create a playbill. The playbill should list the characters and their job/duties as an archeologist. On the back, include a list of ten important methods, tools or qualities involved in the science of archeology that the class has "discovered." It should show that the characters in the script complied with these methods, but still misinterpreted the uses for the objects. This illustrates the differences between scientific research and actual interpretation.