Ancient Homes, Ancient Wisdom

On August 29, 2018, 39 students from Mr. Ross and Mrs. Chapman’s 5th grade class at Flagstaff Junior Academy visited Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona.


Students put on their social scientist hats to look for evidence of how the residents of this monument would have met their fundamental human needs like shelter, food, water, defense, community, art and beauty, religious and cultural beliefs, and social acceptance. They studied the defensible design of the structures, examined metates, and visited the community room where social and possibly religious gatherings may have been held.


Part of the state education standards for science and technology is to understand the contributions that ancient people have made to the collective human knowledge and advancement of these disciplines. What better way to do that then by seeing it in real life!  

Students were able to consider the incredible engineering that allowed the Puebloan people to vent smoke out of the side of first and second floor dwellings and design a community room with acoustics so good a whisper can be heard clear on the other side of the space! Science, engineering, architecture, and advanced mathematics were not exclusive to Greco-Roman civilizations in the ancient world. The Americas too, were a wealth of wisdom about human health, astronomy, botany, zoology and endless other disciplines! To make a great day even better, students took a quick hike up to Citadel ruin after lunch and got to hear about archeological restoration efforts from a park archeologist! Real time, real learning.


Finally, on the way back, we stopped at the Bonito Lava Flow at Sunset Crater National Monument to discuss the geology of cinder cone volcanoes and how the eruption of this particular volcano may have led to the settlement of the Wupatki Area with newly fertile land and likely a higher annual rainfall for a time following the eruption.


Context. Connection. Community. This is what place-based learning is all about.