In an ongoing commitment to promote heritage education in historic preservation, the Materials Conservation Program at NCPTT recently hosted 50 high school juniors from the Avoyelles Public Charter School. For the third year these students took part in the “Conservation Scientist for a Day” lesson.
The students studied archeological sherds of Native American pottery and French colonial wear using optical microscopy, chemical spot tests, and portable x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. Students learned about, Mohs hardness scale while studying tempers used in the clay body, and identified the presence or absence of lead in glaze using chemical spot tests. They also used portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to identify elements present in the sherds. This program was taught by the Materials Conservation Program with special guest Regional Archaeologist Jeff Girard.
The students heard lectures on “What is NCPTT”, “What is a Conservation Scientist”, and an introduction to Archeology with added information about Woodland Period Native American pottery. In groups of two the eleventh graders wrote a report on each of their pottery sherds, starting with documentation (including measurements, sketches, and photographs) and finally studying their sherds with the three featured analytical techniques.