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2010 ECU Nearshore Expedition
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Blog: June 2, 2010

Jeff O'Neill
East Carolina University

Today, Dan Brown and I went to the North Carolina Aquarium at Manteo for our first public outreach event. Not having done this before, we were apprehensive and eager to set a good precedent.

North Carolina Aquarium at Manteo.
North Carolina Aquarium at Manteo.
We started out at 11:30 with an activity designed to show kids how we record underwater sites. First, we displayed a 21ft "shipwreck" drawn out on sheets that are laid together on the floor. Then, we set up a baseline, bow to stern, and made scaled drawings of the wreck. Each child and parent received a three and a half foot section of the site to record. The emphasis here was on working as a team to produce a single drawing in the end.

Students working with parents to map a mock shipwreck. (NOAA)
Students working with parents to map a mock shipwreck. (NOAA)
When everyone drew their section at the same scale, it became easy to combine them into a single drawing. By adhering to this approach, parents and their children came to understand how maritime archaeologists deal with the difficulties of working underwater, while still being able to come back with a complete picture of a shipwreck. The skills also contribute to an understanding of scale, which is beneficial for other aspects of a student's education.

Following the exercise, we gave a formal presentation to visitors to the aquarium outlining the intentions of our field school, the methods practiced on land and underwater, and an overview of the histories of the sites we hope to investigate. Reaching out to children was very fulfilling because their enthusiasm for learning reaffirms my own interest and excitement in maritime history and archaeology.

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