Featured project: Using ThingLink to document a schoolwide study of archeology and prehistoric times

This post features Punkaharju elementary school and their “Dirt Diggers” archeology project that engaged all students to learn about stone age in Lake Saimaa, Finland. The goals of the project were to: 1) engage students to learn about prehistoric periods across age groups and disciplines in their local environment, and 2) help students understand a topic from multiple subject perspectives and through their own activities.

Photo: Student conducted expert interviews and included them in their documentation of the project  

Some months ago Saila Heikkinen, the principal, and Arttu Laukkanen, the deputy principal of Punkaharju school got a unique opportunity to engage their students in an archeology project that tool place only a half mile (under 1 km) away from the school grounds.  “Our school’s slogan is “Together we are more”, and this project successfully demonstrated what this can mean in practice in a concrete outdoors learning environment. ThingLink gave us a great platform to document all the different tasks and activities, and to connect them into a virtual world to learn about the stone age.” 

Photo: Arttu Laukkanen from Punkaharju school presenting the “Dirt Diggers in Saimaa” project on a Yeti tablet

Engaging the whole school in project-based learning

“Dirt Diggers” project was funded by the Finnish Cultural Fund and in addition to three elementary schools, it engaged participants from the local museum and cultural association.

For over a week, students learned about prehistoric periods and archeology based on their own interests and research questions that they had defined in the beginning of the project. Among these questions were:

  • What kind of tools were used for hunting and building?
  • What kind of food they ate and how did they prepare the food?
  • What kind of prehistoric periods are associated with the Lake Saimaa region?
  • How did a village look like in the stone age?

Student groups used clay, wood, leather, and other natural materials to build artifacts, scale models, instruments, dresses, artwork and a dance choreography representing the various aspects of prehistoric living. One team “Survivors” spent 24 hours hiking and sleeping the night in the forest. Another team “Gatherers” picked mushrooms and berries preparing for the hike. 

The project also appointed a media team to document all the different activities using ThingLink. This team included 26 students between grades 3 and 9. The team took several closeup photos of the various projects and artifacts, they conducted interviews of experts and students, searched and edited text and videos about various related topics to be included in 360 degree virtual environment consisting of five interactive scenes:

  • Archeological site
  • Scale model of a prehistoric village
  • Lake Saimaa geography
  • Living and hunting areas
  • Project reflections at school

Explore the different scenes below in a virtual tour created by the media team at Punkaharju school!

Results: 

  • The project built positive and inclusive school culture
  • It enabled collaboration across age groups and subject areas 
  • It taught students about the variety of perspectives that can be applied to study a topic and how these perspectives related to each other 
  • Students connected with external experts to deepen their knowledge of archeology and local history
  • Enthusiasm: Students were 100% engaged in their projects 
  • Student teams produced a variety of artifacts and performances

Interested in learning more about the project? Contact Saila or Arttu @punkaharjunkoulu on Facebook!

 

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