March 09, 2015

Fremont Indians on SciGirls

I recently watched an episode of SciGirls about Indians on PBS:

About SciGirlsSciGirls is a new show for kids ages 8-12 that showcases bright, curious real tween girls putting science and engineering to work in their everyday lives. Each half-hour episode follows a different group of middle school girls, whose eagerness to find answers to their questions will inspire your children to explore the world around them and discover that science and technology are everywhere!

In the first season of SciGirls, the girls, with the help of scientist mentors, design their own inquiry-based investigations on a huge variety of topics, from the environment to technology and from engineering to nutrition. Shot reality style, SciGirls around the country study dolphins, engineer a giant mechanical puppet, unearth the archaeological secrets of extinct Native American cultures and create high-tech fashions. Videos of these investigations are archived in a project section of the show’s companion Web site.

While we meet new girls in each episode, the series is unified by a pair of recurring animated characters Izzie and her best friend Jake. Together, they embark on their own adventures and call on the SciGirls for help.
The episode in question:

Behind the Scenes | Archaeology AdventureMeet Jazzy and Gates, two adventure-loving SciGirls who just returned from four days of hardcore camping far away from running water, little siblings, computers and cell phones--all in the name of science!

The girls teamed up with Dr. Renee Barlow, the Curator of Archaeology of the College of Eastern Utah’s Prehistoric Museum, to try and unearth some clues about the mysterious Fremont Indian culture that lived in Range Creek Canyon about 1,000 years ago.
Digging Archaeology 05: ShareThe SciGirls collected specimens and made detailed observations in their studies of the ancient Fremont culture. They took these observations into account and made some hypotheses about what the ancient people ate and how they lived.Comment:  Perhaps because Jazzy is Native, the episode didn't waste any time on ignorant or stereotypical beliefs about Indians. These girls already seem more knowledgeable about Indians than typical Americans.

The animated introduction had Izzie having to learn archaeology to dig through Jake's locker trash for his lucky socks. Maybe tween girls appreciate that, but I'd drop it.

All in all, the show did a good job of simplifying archaeology to the level of someone 8-12 years old. It might be enough to inspire some girls to pursue science.

Below: Jazzy and Gates.

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