The Past at Their Fingertips - Using the Archaeology Lab for Schools Outreach Activities

Colleagues Sonja Bernhard (TLSE Coordinator) and Jane Barker (Archaeology PhD candidate) ran an Insight Day giving the year 12 students first-hand experience with the archaeology teaching collection in our archaeology lab. Based upon the success of this event we want to promote our labs for use as an outreach space.

Thursday, 25 January 2024 saw the return of SALC’s popular Insight Days for Year 12 students. 200 students from Sixth Form Colleges across the North West (as far afield as Carlisle and Lancaster in some cases) came onto campus to explore History, English and related disciplines via presentations and hands-on workshops. And it does not get much more hands-on than the ever-popular object handling session in the Archaeology lab!

Every last workbench was filled by students eager to learn from our PhD researcher Jane Barker how to handle ancient artefacts safely and what they can tell us about the people who made and used them. With Archaeology no longer offered at A level, it is ever more important to give students opportunities to explore this discipline and make them understand how it links Humanities with a scientific, lab-based approach.

Jane said:

This year’s workshop was really well received, with a record number of attendees. It is so encouraging to see so many young people taking such an interest in the fascinating objects in our teaching collection, and the stories that these objects can tell us about the past.

We plan to show off our lab and include handling sessions at future Insight Days and other school events. They are a vital part of showcasing what makes Archaeology at Manchester special and unique.