Friday, September 9th
The students received last minute instructions before their departure, which included, "How to get through an airport without running over someone's toes with your suitcase." Wow, that's much harder than it looks!
Sunday, September 11th
We arrived at Crow Canyon safely and have already been given our "hogan" sleeping assignments. At this point in the day, we are relaxing and catching up from our travels. Everyone is very excited and can't wait to get started with our learning!!
After an afternoon of unpacking, volleyball and games, we ate a delicious meal of pasta, vegetables and salad. Our CC instructor spoke to us about the center in general, its offerings and what we could look forward to this week. Then it was off for showers and winding down after a very jam packed day.
Monday, September 12th
Thank you for your patience with this late diary entry, but we had an EXTREMELY busy day. We began the morning with breakfast at 7:30am and our first class at 8:30am, Windows into the Past. The next 2 1/2 hours were spent learning about cultures, anthropology, artifacts, observation and inference skills pertaining to the ancestral Puebloans. We also studied the paleoindian, the archaic, the early farmer, the Pueblo farmer and the modern Pueblo.
After lunch we heard our archeological educator, Josie, impart information about pottery and its significance in conjunction with the ancestral Pueblo culture. We looked at real artifacts, some that were 500 years old, and studied their design and function. Then we constructed our own coil pots and gained a new respect for those that created pottery during that time period.
Our students are guests at Crow Canyon, along with another independent school from Minnesota, so we ended a day with a game in which both schools participated. The Rohan Woods children are having a blast!
Tuesday, September 13th
The students slept well last night after a day of expansive activities. After breakfast we took a bus to Anasazi Heritage Center located in Dolores, Colorado and spent the morning learning about the Anasazi Puebloan culture and other native cultures found in the Four Corners region.
This afternoon we hiked to the pithouse, a traditional Puebloan home, located on the Crow Canyon campus to study the Puebloan lifestyle including the construction of pithouses, family life, dress, basketmaking and the ever popular, fire making. The students discovered just how difficult it is to make fire by hand.
We discovered that the Puebloan's main food sources were gathering grains and berries and hunting, specifically the wild turkey that they attempted to domesticate. The 5th and 6th graders tried their hand at spearing a turkey from a distance using an atlatl, a device that helped grip the spear. While some of us came close to the turkey, we grew to understand how difficult it is to hunt with a spear.
After dinner we ended the evening listening to the David Nighteagle Flute Concert. Look at our musicians!
Wednesday, September 14th
After a breakfast of French toast and fruit, students headed to the Education Lab for a simulated dig with Josie. Students presented the scientific method used at school and learned that archaeologists use a slightly different method. We realized that archaeologists get one chance to gather all available information during a dig. Unlike other science processes, there are no do-overs. Students learned that proper technique, attention and patience are necessary for successful dig.
Our archaeologists began their individual digs with careful measurements, scraping, sifting and re-measuring. After moving loads of sands, students began to discover the artifacts hidden below the surface. All students were able to identify the time periods of artifacts based on material, shape and color.
After the dig students had a lunch of rice casserole and salad, followed by a wonderfully muddy game of tag around the hogans.
This afternoon the 5th and 6th graders learned what an archaeologist does in the lab. Contrary to popular belief, archaeologists do not spend all of their time in the field; for every one hour of field work, they spend four hours in the lab analyzing their artifacts. We started our lab work by looking at several artifacts and determining how they should be classified. We came up with many different ideas and listened to how the archaeologists at Crow Canyon classify their artifacts. Next, we learned how to "wash the dishes". Parents, don't get too excited...these aren't the dishes we are used to using and I wish we could say that your child will come home ready and willing to do the dishes. We washed real artifacts from the field (some of which were between 500-1,000 years old). The kids used cold water and a high tech tool, a toothbrush, to get the dirt off of the finds. It is amazing to think that the last three people who touched these items were an Ancestral Pueblo person, a professional architect, and your child! It is quite an honor to handle something that only two other people have seen during the last millennium! Our final lab activity was to study trees. Trees you ask? What do they have to do with archaeology? Quite a bit as it turns out. Logs that were used as pillars and support beams in Ancestral Pueblo homes can tell us the date that the homes were built. By studying tree ring patterns, scientists have been able to put together an impressive timeline that aids archaeologists in dating the sites they find. Interestingly enough, this science, called dendrochronology, was discovered by mistake by astronomer A.E. Douglass in between 1894 and 1929. The kids did great job of using this technology to make their own timeline using four different tree core samples.
When we left the lab for the afternoon, the rain had cleared up. We decided it was a perfect time to go for a jog. So, during our afternoon free time, eight students decided to jog with Mrs. B, while the rest stayed at the hogans to do various fun activities (shopping at the gift shop was one of the activities). The group that went for the run did an excellent job, considering the mountainous landscape and the altitude. A great time was had by all as we enjoyed the freedom of being away from camp and the opportunity to chat with a few cows and horses grazing in the fields. Fortunately, we made it back just in the nick of time for dinner!
Our evening activities included many different things. Some enjoyed a heated game of volleyball on the sand volleyball court with Coach and Mrs. B, while others had fun just being outside. Tonight was our night for a campfire, but the weather just didn't want to cooperate. Our wood had gotten wet from the rain showers this morning. We gave a fire our best shot (with the children waiting in the wings drooling at the thought of yummy s'mores), but the damp wood and the quickly approaching evening storm forced us to abandon our plans until tomorrow evening. In leu of the campfire, we headed to dry ground to relax and watch a movie. Everyone appreciated the downtime. After a quick round of showers (actually the kids got two showers tonight-first by running through the rain from their hogan to the restrooms and then actually showering in the shower), they are settled in for the night, dreaming if dry weather for their day tomorrow. Despite the rainy day, the kids had a blast!
Thursday, September 15th
This afternoon began with the Rohan Woods students revisiting the idea of how to find an archaeological site. We remembered that archaeologists do a survey of the land and often use modern technology to aid them. Additionally, archaeologists in this region who study the Ancestral Pueblo culture often search for a large depression in the land next to a small hill.
This indicates a kiva (the depression) and a pit house (the small hill). We also watched a short video that explained how we can visit an archaeology site with respect. Next, we embarked upon our trip to the archaeological site that Crow Canyon is currently excavating, the Dillard Site. This site lies only a short, five minute ride from the Crow Canyon campus. This site is situated within a 1,200 acre neighborhood. This neighborhood is unique in that it is the only "archaeological neighborhood" in the country. Each homeowner purchases about 35 acres and is guaranteed to have an archaeological site on their property. They agree to have their site surveyed and excavated by contract archaeologists before they can begin building. On the Dillard Site, there are numerous pit houses and a great kiva from the Early Farmer basket maker period (500AD-900AD). It was amazing to stand on land that was last used by the Ancestral Pueblo people so long ago. We toured the site and saw the great kiva and two pit houses and watched as older students excavated.
Once we returned home, we determined that a campfire just wasn't in the cards for this trip, so we had cold s'mores as a snack.I think they enjoyed it just as much as a traditional s'more. Next, we played a game of deer versus hunter. The kids loved this active game of prey trying to outsmart its predator. In the late afternoon a few students chose to call home while the others hung out in their hogans.
After dinner, we headed into the Gates Building for a class on astronomy with our favorite teacher, Josie.
Friday, September 16 was known as "Mesa Verde Day" for the RWS 5th and 6th Graders. Today was the day we traveled from Crow Canyon to Mesa Verde National Park. Although it was only about a 15-minute drive to the park entrance, it took an additional 45 minutes of traveling along mountainous, switchback filled roads inside of the park to reach our first site.
The first site we visited today was a cliff dwelling called "Spruce Tree House". It is the third largest cliff dwelling and was built between AD 1211 and 1278. It was home to about 70-80 people. Our next stop was the Chapin Mesa Museum where the students did a short, written scavenger hunt and visited the gift shop (get excited for all of the lovely gifts you are about to receive!). Next we moved on to a delicious picnic lunch. After lunch we headed to the largest cliff dwelling in North America, Cliff Palace. At Cliff Palace, we took a ranger-guided tour and learned a lot. We had to squeeze through tight crevasses and climb out on steep ladders. Cliff Palace was built in AD 1200 and housed around 100 people. It really was a truly magnificent sight. Our final stops of the day included visits to several pit houses, kivas, and room blocks that had been excavated some time ago.
After dinner, the students played for a bit before heading to our wrap up class. During this class they discussed archaeology ethics and tried to solve some ethical dilemmas. After class, we headed to the hogans for showering and packing. Our last activity was a short night hike to see how much we learned in our astronomy lesson last night and to appreciate the sights we don't get to see in St. Louis, like the Milky Way. It was a great day. Everyone has had a blast, but is ready to return home! We leave Crow Canyon tomorrow morning at 9:20am for a 1 1/2 hour bus ride to Durango to catch our 12:57 pm flight to Denver. We will have a layover in Denver and will arrive in St. Louis at 8:34 pm. Your children are looking forward to seeing you and sharing this amazing experience with you.