Active learning takes on a new meaning in the "Dirt, Artifacts and Ideas" course, as students make their own stone tools and spears — and then put them to the test.
The course is popular not only with anthropology minors but also across the university as a popular general education course. The course offers a hands-on introduction to studying the history of humanity for all students.
Throughout the semester, students are introduced to the physics of how tools were made during the Paleolithic Era, also referred to as the Old Stone Age. Giblin sources chert, obsidian and flint online to give students the chance to shape their own arrowheads and other instruments.
“As a society, we tend to think we have it figured out and that our technology is so sophisticated. We have been a species for the last 200,000 years and we have been as smart as we are now those years ago,” said Giblin. “A society’s technology fits its current lifestyle and environment.”
During flint-knapping week, Giblin takes a different approach in the classroom. Students read a posted lecture before class and spend in-class time shaping their tools. Prior to COVID-19, Giblin hosted the workshop in a research lab on campus, moving the exercise outside makes the experience more authentic, she explained.
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