Archaeology at the State Social Science Fair

Submitted by Matthew Newberry

On May 3, 2014 students from Georgia elementary, middle, and high schools convened on the campus of Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia to compete in the annual State Social Science Fair hosted by the Georgia Council for the Social Studies. Students presenting at this fair had already competed and excelled at the local and regional competitions in their respective discipline. Participants could complete a project in a wide variety of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology/psychology, history, political science, economics and geography.

The Society for Georgia Archaeology (SGA) and the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists (GCPA) present an annual award each to students with outstanding projects that exemplify the goals and missions of the organizations. These are special awards that are presented first during a ceremony at the end of the fair.

Each participant was required to choose a significant topic and develop a related research question. Guidelines specified that projects contain both visual and oral components, report how the student gathered and analyzed their data, and provide an interpretation of findings and a final conclusion. This year’s turnout was outstanding, and the social sciences were well represented. There were many excellent projects with research topics ranging from the impacts of climate change on human societies to a study of Japanese concentration camps.

It was my honor to present this year’s SGA award to Luke Edenfield of Savannah and the GCPA award to Parker E. Smith of Decatur. Luke’s project was titled “Why was the Andersonville Civil War POW camp so deadly?” and focused on the horrific conditions that existed at Camp Sumter, more commonly referred to as Andersonville.

Parker’s project — “What led to the Great Demise of the Aztecs?” — took us a little farther south and explained the reasoning behind the disappearance of the Aztec civilization.

Congratulations to our winners and to all that participated in this year’s event!