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Students Learn the Thrill of Discovery as Excavation Season Starts at Haynie

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The snow has melted, spring has finally sprung, and the students are back as the third season of excavation has begun at the Haynie site—home of Crow Canyon's current research project, the Northern Chaco Outliers Project.

"This has been the experience of a lifetime," said Nicole Erasmus, a sixth grade teacher with the Steamboat Springs School in Colorado. "Just hearing the students' excitement over making discoveries has been incredible."

The Steamboat Springs students worked on several excavation units on the west side of the Haynie site, a significant ancestral Pueblo village located just near Cortez. The Haynie site contains two Chaco–period (A.D. 1050–1140) great houses as well as evidence of substantial earlier occupations. The site is part of the larger Lakeview group, which includes the two great houses at the Haynie Site and two others nearby on private land. This makes the Lakeview group one of the densest concentrations of ancient Pueblo great houses in Colorado.

The Northern Chaco Outliers Project—which is supported through a grant from the History Colorado State Historical Fund—is designed to help provide insights into changing human-environment relationships though time, social stratification and equality/inequality, the roles of public architecture and community centers, and identity formation. The research at the Haynie site will, in turn, tie into data Crow Canyon has collected over the past four decades—helping to give a clearer picture of the incredible ancient culture that thrived in the Four Corners region some 800 years ago.

The Northern Chaco Outliers Project also provides a unique, hands-on opportunity for young learners from schools participating in Crow Canyon's week-long school program to not only learn about the ancient past, but actually play an important part in advancing the archaeological research.

"This is what it's all about for me," says Crow Canyon Field Archaeologist Steve Copeland. "Teaching kids about the past in a way that makes it real and exciting for them is one of the highlights of my job. Having these school kids out here, not just finding artifacts but gaining an understanding of what those artifacts might mean and how they relate to the greater story of this site and the people who lived here—I love it!"

For teachers like Nicole, the feedback from their students about their experience at Crow Canyon and the Haynie site has been immediate and incredible.

"I had one student who was down excavating in the dirt just turn around and tell me, 'Thank you for bringing us here! This is awesome!'" says Nicole. "There were so many great experiences in our week (at Crow Canyon) it's hard to narrow them down. It's just been incredible."

"It's been a real experiential learning experience, just the kind of learning you would want for kids."

For more information on Crow Canyon's array of experiential education programs for schools (and learners of all ages), click here or call 800-422-8975, ext. 455. 

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