ExploreMore Program offers gifted students unique opportunity to study region's past

For immediate release…
Thursday – Feb. 6, 2014

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Here’s an opportunity flush with curiosity for your budding young scientist, raised with indoor plumbing but ready to travel back in time to when cultural clues were left in the privy, whether intentionally or not.

The next Laura Croft or Indiana Jones will have a chance to hone their archaeological skills with 19th Century Privies Unearthed: Exploring Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s Potties from the Past, a unique service-learning class being offered as part of the Northern Kentucky University Institute for Talent Development and Gifted Studies ExploreMore Program.         

ExploreMore is a popular enrichment program designed to meet the needs of academically, creatively, and artistically gifted students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The program offers a variety of courses including science, mathematics, visual and performing arts, and original interdisciplinary studies.

The privies class will be taught by NKU Public History graduate students Katie Crawford-Lackey and Collette Thompson.

The family outhouse was once a normal part of daily life, and since it wasn’t much more than a hole in the ground with a roof over it, whatever dropped in stayed in. “Excavating privy sites allows archaeologists to piece together what everyday life was like in the 19th century,” said Crawford-Lackey. “The artifacts found in a privy give us a glimpse into the past and sometimes reveal secrets to unsolved stories.”

Third, fourth, and fifth grade students will have an opportunity to explore history, archaeology, chemistry, and creative writing over the course of five weeks beginning on Saturday, Feb. 22. In addition to the hands-on learning in the classroom – including preparing real artifacts from a Civil War period homestead – students will learn the ins and outs of museum exhibit design on field trips to the Cincinnati Museum Center and the NKU Museum of Anthropology.

The experience will culminate with an opening reception at NKU’s Steely Library for an exhibit researched, designed, and curated by the class on local history. Students will be given a passport providing them free admission into local museums like the Dinsmore Homestead in Burlington as a way to encourage them to continue their learning adventure.

The content of the course is inspired by the exhibit “Medicine, Marbles and Mayhem: Unearthing Stories from 19th Century Privies,” designed by NKU graduate students in the master of public history program for the John A. Ruthven Gallery at the Cincinnati Museum Center. That exhibit features a wide variety of historical artifacts that tell shocking stories and hidden secrets that helped shape the private lives of our ancestors. Visitors to the exhibit will also gain a better understanding of the excavation process used by urban archaeologists, learning how the digging of privies provides such an important connection to Cincinnati's history. The exhibit is free and open to the public for viewing during regular museum hours through May 26. For more information on times, museum ticket prices, and scheduled programming, visit www.cincymuseum.org.

For more information about the privy class or other ExploreMore programs, visit http://gifted.nku.edu or call (859) 572-5600. Registrations received after Feb. 7 will be assessed a late fee. A limited number of scholarships are available.

This experience is made possible through the collaborative efforts of NKU’s Department of History and Geography; Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Philosophy; Institute for Talent Development and Gifted Studies; Museum of Anthropology; and W. Frank Steely Library.

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