Looking-Glass Science
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The Mystery at Quick Gulch

Plains Salvage Archaeology

Module Highlights

This module takes place in present day on the Great Plains of North America. It begins as the class receives a letter from salvage archaeologist, Dr. Shannon Lee. She explains in her letter the process and importance of salvage archaeology. The letter ends with a request for help from the class. Dr. Lee’s archaeology firm is short staffed and is working on two sites at the same time. Dr. Lee asks the class to excavate one of the sites she’s working on and report back to her with their findings. The class is then asked to present their findings to a mock City Council.

Skills and Knowledge Acquired

  • History of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes
  • Impact of Westward Expansion on Plains Tribes
  • Archaeological Excavation Techniques
  • Artifact Collection Techniques
  • Cataloging Methods
  • Collaborative Group Work with Classmates
  • Cataloging Methods
  • Collaborative Group Work with Members of One’s Own Class
  • Collaborative Group Work with Other Classes
  • Hands-on Practice Transferring Data Using Coordinate System
  • Presentation Development Skills
  • Presentation Skills
Elementary Archaeology Dig

Learning Objectives

With this module, Looking-Glass Science expects students to:
  • Learn that artifacts left behind by humans reveal what activities the humans engaged in, their diet, their domestic life, and clues as to what may have happened when they left their site
  • Understand the importance of recording data accurately
  • Learn about the history of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes
  • Learn about the process of Salvage Archaeology
  • Learn about City Council meetings
  • Develop presentation skills
  • Experience, first hand, the benefits of collaborative problem solving

Module Contents

  • Teacher’s Guide Overview
  • Materials, including replica Native American artifacts and excavation tools
  • Pre-Lab
  • Lab
  • Worksheet Masters
  • Suggestions for Supplementary Reading
  • Plastic storage container
Archaeology Dig Tray Setup

Colorado State Standards Met

4th Grade

5th Grade

Common Core Standards Met


CCSS.Math.Content.5.G.A.1 Use a pair of perpendicular number lines, called axes, to define a coordinate system, with the intersection of the lines (the origin) arranged to coincide with the 0 on each line and a given point in the plane located by using an ordered pair of numbers, called its coordinates. Understand that the first number indicates how far to travel from the origin in the direction of one axis, and the second number indicates how far to travel in the direction of the second axis, with the convention that the names of the two axes and the coordinates correspond (e.g., x-axis and x-coordinate, y-axis and y-coordinate).
CCSS.Math.Content.5.G.A.2 Represent real world and mathematical problems by graphing points in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane, and interpret coordinate values of points in the context of the situation.
(source: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/5/G)


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9  Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4  Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
4th Grade
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3 Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.9  Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.10 By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
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