Wareham Middle School students dig up history

Jun 22, 2018

For weeks, students in Sally Snider's 7th grade world history class dug up artifacts from Wareham's famous 18th Century Capt. John Kendrick, carefully catalogued their finds, and sent the items off to a laboratory for analysis.

On Friday, June 22, the results were back: As revealed at a class ice-cream party, the archaeological expedition behind Wareham Middle School was part of an elaborate, hands-on learning experience orchestrated by Snider and Principal Dr. Peter Steedman with assistance from the Wareham Historical Society.

The lesson, designed to teach students about one of Wareham's own historical figures, took well over a year to piece together.

"I've been working on this since last July," Snider said. "It's really worth it to see the reactions of the class."

Together, Snider and Steedman crafted historical items for the kids to find. The hardest part, Steedman said, was figuring out a narrative.

"We want these items to tell a story," Steedman said. "Because the kids are going to come up with their own version of that story."

Steedman had previously done a similar project with a school in Miami, hiding ceramic dinosaur bones for high school students to find.

"We told them that Dig Safe had found the artifacts while they were working," Steedman explained. "We halted all construction, and that's where the project kicked off."

Together, the middle school students mapped out three archaeological sites. They dug up items with everything from garden trowels to spoons, marking coordinates and cataloging their findings.

President of the Wareham Historical Society Angela Dunham joined the class on their dig, offering ideas and historical knowledge of Wareham.

"It's one of the most creative projects I've ever seen," Dunham said. "It's teaching them to inquisitive. Their just like real historians."

Students then took their findings to the classroom. Broken into three groups, they researched the items they found for clues about their origins.

All signs seemed to point to Captain John Kendrick, a fur trader who lived in Wareham. Kendrick participated in the Revolutionary War and was the first to sail to Japan from the East Coast.

The groups presented their findings following an ice cream party on Friday. Steedman applauded the students for their hard work, revealing that the project had been fabricated.

For the most part, however, the students didn't seem to mind.

"It was still awesome," student Indiana Troupe said.

The dig marks the last project Steedman will be doing with Wareham Middle School as Principle. He's accepted a position as the new director of Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School next year.

"These students have been fantastic," Steedman said. "It'll be hard for me to go."