Fourth Grade recently visited the Forensic Anthropology Lab at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. In the "Mystery of Yorktown Creek," erosion along a creek bed produced a startling discovery – a human skeleton! This trip directly ties not only to students' study of bones in science class but also to their social studies curriculum, giving them numerous points of connection and understanding.
Students examined the evidence collected by the archaeologists during this staff-led program. Using the forensic tools and techniques of Smithsonian scientists, they studied human bones and artifacts found with the skeleton to determine who this person was, when they lived, and what their life might have been like.
The skeleton was determined to be from Yorktown, VA and estimated to be from colonial times. The 4th graders had reviewed early colonial settlements in 3rd grade. In 4th grade they have been building upon this knowledge as they study early American history. Along the way this year, they have been noticing and unpacking the contradiction between our founders' ideals and slavery and other inequities of the times.
These studies gave the students the background needed for a respectful and contextualized forensic investigation.