Sweet Briar adds archaeology to October ‘Explore’ weekends for high school girls

Monument Hill
Monument Hill, about 100 years ago

A weekend to investigate archaeological evidence on Oct. 6 and 7 is the latest addition to Sweet Briar’s popular “Explore” series for high school girls. Beginning with “Explore Engineering” nearly a decade ago, the hands-on “Explore” events are designed for high school girls in their sophomore, junior and senior years and take place on the campus of Sweet Briar College. The College also offers fall and spring weekends for environmental science, chemistry and computer science; Explore Environmental Science and Explore Chemistry take place on Oct. 13 and 14.

Adding archaeology to the mix was a logical next step, says Lynn Rainville, director of the Tusculum Institute and research professor at Sweet Briar College.

“Our 3,250 acres of breathtaking beauty and nature also contain a multitude of artifacts, ruins and neo-classical architecture,” Rainville explains. “These features reveal Sweet Briar’s rich, multi-century heritage.”

“Passport to the Past” is the theme of the first Explore Archaeology weekend, and Rainville is starting with the basics: How does an archaeologist locate sites to excavate? How do architectural historians date a building? How do public historians share information about the lives of people in the past?

In true “Explore” fashion, everything about the weekend is hands-on. Students will “fan out across the historic landscape and search for clues about past residents on the antebellum plantation, the Jim Crow-era farm, and the early 20th-century college,” Rainville says. They will gather evidence, spend time studying architectural styles, photograph archaeological sites, map features and analyze the antebellum landscape.

Participants will arrive on campus at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6. An architectural tour at 3:30 p.m. is followed by dinner at 5. The day wraps up with a ghost tour at 6:30 p.m. After an overnight stay on campus with student mentors, participants spend all day Saturday working in teams on a project of their choice. Lunch is provided. The weekend culminates in a project exhibition at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Total cost for the weekend course is $125, including room and board, snacks and supplies. Financial assistance is available to families in need. Click here to sign up and to view a complete schedule. Register by Sept. 29 for highest priority, as space is limited to 10 students. Only fully paid registrations reserve your student’s seat; unpaid registrations are placed on a waiting list until payment is received. For more information, contact Rainville at 434-381-6432 or lrainville@sbc.edu.

Space also still is available in this fall’s Explore Environmental Science weekend, which takes place Oct. 13 and 14. Participants will discover what it’s like to work as an environmental scientist through hands-on learning and problem solving. They will spend time in the forests and streams on Sweet Briar’s expansive campus, collaborating with environmental science professors and students to collect and analyze data relevant to a contemporary environmental challenge.

Total cost for the weekend event is $35, including room and board, snacks and supplies. Click here to sign up and to view a complete schedule. Register by Sept. 15 for highest priority, as space is limited. Only fully paid registrations reserve your student’s seat; unpaid registrations are placed on a waiting list until payment is received. Explore Environmental Science is underwritten by the Judith Haskell Brewer Fund. For more information, contact Rebecca Girten at 434-381-6447 or rgirten@sbc.edu.

More information about all of Sweet Briar’s “Explore” events is at sbc.edu/explore.

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