On Halloween, staff from the Presidio Archaeology Lab’s education program visits one local San Francisco elementary school to conduct edible cake excavations with the students. Using miniature cakes, lots of candy, and many scoops of green cool whip, students travel back in time to recreate an archaeological site from the Presidio: PSF B13. Archaeologist Barb Voss documents this site in her book, The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. Students first scoop out an “adobe making pit” from the center of their cake; fill the hole with “garbage” (candy); then cover the “midden” with a planted “lawn” (green cool whip). After creating the archaeological site, students carefully excavate one corner unit and draw profile grids to record their edible finds. After all of their hard work, students are rewarded with a delicious slice of midden.
Expanding Your Horizons Conference
In the fall, San Francisco State University hosts the Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Conference for middle school girls. These national conferences nurture girls’ interest in science and math courses to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The ultimate goal is to motivate girls to become innovative and creative thinkers ready to meet 21st Century challenges. Women professionals from over local Bay Area organizations lead the hands-on science and mathematics workshops that the girls attend. At the 2008 conference, students had the opportunity to work with the Lab’s Collection Specialist, Education Coordinator and U.C. Berkeley Intern; they cataloged ceramic artifacts and applied the scientific method to formulate interpretations about an assemblage of artifacts.
In June 2009 and 2010, the Presidio Archaeology Lab and Mission Dolores co-hosted Mission Possible, an exhibit of California mission models created by San Francisco fourth graders from public and private schools. Visitors to the exhibit traveled back in time along El Camino Real to encounter California’s early history as re-envisioned by the creativity and ingenuity of our city’s youngest historians.