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Interpreting multiple histories of a lithic artifact: introducing undergraduate students to research using the SEM

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Kirsten Nicolaysen Department of Geology - KSU
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This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.

We introduced introductory geology and archaeology students to research using the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) at KSU. Students selected images of a complicated lithic stone tool to image and then wrote an interpretive history of the artifact based on their observations of the images.
GSA Poster ( 45.3MB Nov11 03)

Learning Goals

Content/Concepts:

Higher Order Thinking Skills:

Students had to analyze visual data. They had to evaluate those data with the other content material to interpret a sequence of events recorded by the artifact.

Other Skills:

We asked students to provide an individual written summary of their interpretation. They participated in operating the SEM. They had to consder scale when comparing images.

Context

Instructional Level:

undergraduate entry level or major

Skills Needed:

The students should understand what geologic materials are appropriate for creating lithic tools. They should have seen or participated in percussion and pressure flaking of chert. Also they should understand what surface processes (chemical weathering, erosion due to streams and saltating sand) may modify artifacts after they've been discarded.

Role of Activity in a Course:

This was a stand-alone activity that we assigned the students mid-way through the course.

Data, Tools and Logistics

Required Tools:

You may contact me (Nicolaysen) to get a cast of the lithic tool and to acquire copies of the SEM images.

Logistical Challenges:

We alloted only two, 1.5 hour class periods to this project but it really requires three meetings, particularly if you plan to collect more images. If you use provided images, two class periods may be enough.

Evaluation

Evaluation Goals:

This is described in detail on the poster.

Evaluation Techniques:

This is described in detail on the poster.

Description

This is described in detail on the poster.