The wheels on the bus go round and round…

Submitted by Rita Elliott (relliott@chsgeorgia.org)

The bus is here!!

The Society for Georgia Archaeology (SGA) is pleased to announce the acquisition of a book mobile from the Athens Regional Library System and the beginning of an innovative, large-scale project. The project, now known as the Archaeology Mobile project, but soon to have an official name, is an ambitious plan aimed at statewide public education, site documentation, and SGA marketing. The goal of the project is to educate Georgians about archaeological, historical, and environmental topics and to collect and record archaeological data from across the state. SGA will begin writing grant proposals to cover the costs of customizing the vehicle; stocking it with equipment and supplies; creating hands-on learning tools; formulating a long-term planning document and operational strategy; and writing K-12 history, archaeology, and environmental web-based curricula. SGA has already begun inviting potential partners having relevant historical and environmental interests and expertise for this far-reaching project.

The bus will be the first-ever dynamic, interactive project that will physically travel the state while connecting to classrooms and other entities through the world-wide web. Teachers, students, and others can track the journey of the bus as it travels around the state, and download archaeological, historical, and environmental interactive lesson plans, resources, and classroom activities relevant to their subjects and to the mandated Georgia Performance Standards. Teachers and students can use distance learning equipment to interact with the bus staff through student interviews and live camera shots. The bus will visit schools, libraries, shopping malls, festivals, and other areas across rural and urban Georgia where visitors can learn through hands-on activities, educational and fun games, interactive computer presentations, and displays. It will be equipped as a stand-alone classroom that can accommodate student and other groups. On non-outreach scheduled days, artifact collectors can visit the bus and share information about area sites with bus staff, who can then record information about the sites. They will be able to scan or photograph artifacts, complete site forms and topographic maps that they send electronically to the Georgia Archaeological Site File, and visit select sites.

First Stop

The bus is currently at its first stop. This has included the purchase of the bus at a nominal fee through the generosity of the Athens Regional Library System and the work of SGA Treasurer Michael Shirk. SGA Secretary Tom Gresham has worked hard to help with the acquisition, including arranging for tax, tag, title, and insurance. SGA President Carolyn Rock and the SGA Board have been actively supporting the project. We are currently formulating an advisory council for the project and will begin initial planning within the next six weeks. SGA members Barbara Bruno and Rita Elliott are creating a short-list of relevant, potential grant funders.

Second Stop

Initially the bus will operate in a temporary mode during the 2007-2008 school year in the Clarke County area. This will be an opportunity to provide outreach on a small scale and discover the successes and challenges with the vehicle and our long-term plans prior to customizing the bus and creating curricula material.

Third Stop

SGA will work with partners to identify symbiotic goals and strategies for the project. We will submit grant proposals to relevant funders for the various components of the project. SGA will then use grant funds to customize and supply the bus, equip it with high-tech tools, write the various web-based curricula, and hire the appropriate administrative and programming personnel.

Fourth Stop

The bus goes on the road! Staff will drive predetermined routes around the state of Georgia, stopping at scheduled locations for public interaction and site recordation. The program will use the internet and web-based curricula throughout.

Fifth Stop

We will evaluate the program and its results. This will allow us to modify the program according to feedback and results documented by staff. At this phase we will seek continued operational support either through fees, operational grants, or other mechanisms.

SGA thanks the Athens Regional Library System, Dr. Bill Prokasy and Mr. Logan Mathis for allowing SGA the opportunity to purchase the bus at a nominal cost for this educational venture. Thanks also to Tom Gresham and Michael Shirk for their involvement in bus acquisition. Thanks go to Barbara Bruno for her past and future assistance with grant funding opportunities for the project. SGA invites you to stay tuned as this project develops.

Don’t miss the bus!