Teens learn about Central Texas history from Fort Hood archaeology
By PAMELA GRANT
Before it was Fort Hood, before it was even Camp Hood, the Central Texas area was a shallow ocean.
Teenagers in Wednesday’s Summer Reading class learned that millions of years ago, Texas was completely under water and archaeologists have found the fossil evidence to prove it.
Sunny Wood, a Fort Hood archaeologist, led a class Wednesday from 2 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. as part of the Copperas Cove Public Library’s ongoing annual Summer Reading Program.
Wood has been an archaeologist for more than 20 years and says that he loves getting to learn about the history and past of the people that lived here thousands of years ago, and he hopes to be able to pass on some of that appreciation to his teenage audience.
“I hope they learn some appreciation for the history and the past of the people that lived here before us and how some of the artifacts that we find are the key to understanding the people that lived here before us,” said Wood.
Wood not only taught the teens about archaeology; he taught them about the importance of developing their observational skills. He talked to them about how you can learn things about an item and the person who owned an item just by observing details about that item and about the circumstances surrounding that item, such as location and other items that were found near it.
During his class, Wood passed around fossils of sea creatures that were in the area thousands of years ago, a spear head and other tools used by early humans, and even some more modern artifacts like a license plate from 1942. He also brought several artifacts for the teens to look at but not touch such as the humerus of an ancient mammoth, arrow heads, and even a toy car.
Throughout his class, Wood made sure to continuously engage the participants, asking them questions about what they noticed about the artifacts as well as differences between one item and another similar item.
He asked them about what those observations might mean and how that could help them to learn about the person or people who once owned that item. One example was how the spear heads became smaller and smaller (becoming arrow heads) as the bow and arrow became increasingly prevalent.
Katelyn and Douglas Long brought their children, Rowan Long (14) and Emmaline Long (12) to Wednesday’s session. This was their first time attending this year’s Summer Reading Program, but they had already signed up to come back on Thursday.
“Our son is really into history,” said Katelyn Long. “He’s very excited to get to talk with an archaeologist.”
Both parents said that they were very impressed with the way Wood taught his class and how well he was able to engage the participants.
“He’s not just teaching them the history; he’s asking them questions and having them deduce information themselves. It’s not just him speaking to them, he’s getting them involved,” said Long. “I’m impressed.”
Long said that her children attended last year’s anime drawing class, and it really inspired their daughter who has since developed a love for drawing. Both parents are happy that the city offers the Summer Reading Program each year.
“I think it’s a great program,” said Douglas Long.
Karen Eacrett, the children’s librarian, said that several of the kids are very motivated and added that they have some really good prizes this year.
“The main purpose of the program is to promote reading and make it fun,” said Eacrett. She said that the Summer Reading Program also helps to slow down the summer slump and encourages participants to continue to read even when they are not in school.
Sara Madewell said that her son, Christopher Reed was excited about the archaeology class and that she really likes the library’s Summer Reading Program.
“We love it. It helps keep him involved,” said Madewell about the program. “It also keeps him reading throughout the summer.”
Madewell said that she loves all the different programs offered by the library and how they are able to make learning fun for her son.
The Summer Reading Program continues next week with the Bell County Museum at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, drawing manga with Mr. Pitts for the teenagers starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and the Austin Reptile Show on Thursday at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.