Friday, February 3, 2017

Girl Scout STEM Outreach

This past weekend the State Museum of PA’s Section of Archaeology participated in a Girl Scout STEM career day, hosted by Community 165 at the Newport High School in Perry County. For our readers who have not kept pace with the ever-growing litany of acronyms out there, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

For decades, women in the workforce have been under-represented in STEM professions, and this event was designed to expose the scouts to vocational avenues they may not have considered, been aware of, or unfortunately, may have been passively or actively discouraged from pursuing. In the words of the event coordinator, Marla Steele, “This program is to plant the seeds of possibility”.

As a sub-discipline of anthropology (the study of humans), archaeology is generally considered a social or “soft” science. Prerequisites of traditional science classes such as physics and organic chemistry are normally absent from college curricula when obtaining a degree in archaeology. Additionally, research questions archaeologists seek to answer are often social in nature. However, it is the system (empirical method) by which they attempt to answer those questions that aligns the field with what is popularly thought of as science.

 Archaeologists rely heavily upon a variety of science specialists for data collection. Geomorphologists, zoologists, botanists, and not least of which carbon 14 dating laboratories, all contribute towards the goal of creating a broader understanding of past human behavior. Anthropology, in this multi-disciplinary sense, stands at the nexus between the humanities and the sciences, combining the theories of the former with the methods of the latter.

As the fifty girl scouts broke into smaller groups and made their way from station to station learning about civil engineering, micro-biology and environmental science, our display emphasized what archaeology is and is not (sorry, no dinosaurs), why it is important, and how it is conducted. Throughout the afternoon, several of the girl scouts posed thoughtful questions and shared anecdotes about artifact discoveries they’ve made in their own backyards and nearby fields.

Thanks again to Ms. Steele for inviting us to participate in this worthwhile program!

The Section of Archaeology was recently notified that our blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 Anthropology blogs in the world by FeedspotWe are actually number twenty-four on the list along with blogs by ScienceDaily, Huffington Post and the American Anthropological Association. Criteria for selection included the “Quality and consistency of posts” along with popularity on Google, Facebook and other social media.

Our blog is an opportunity to connect with the public and provide thought provoking, educational posts. We’ve covered the archaeological heritage of Pennsylvania for all 67 counties, compiled two alphabetical lists of archaeological topics and shared our research discoveries and programs with our blog followers for the past eight years and almost 350 posts.

 As archaeologists and museum curators our goal is to provide reliable, educational content in a format which appeals to a broad audience. We would like to think that this award is one measure of our success. So if you’ll keep reading, we’ll keep blogging!  Thanks to Feedspot for the recognition and most importantly thank you, our faithful followers and readers! 

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

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