Farmington archaeologist engages with local elementary school students

Teachers from Apache Elementary School invited Farmington Field Office Archaeologist Mark Williams to help judge their science fair in Farmington, New Mexico, in early 2024.

Mark has worked for the Farmington District since 2023 as an archaeologist, and he connected with teachers from the school at a previous outreach event that took place at the Farmington City Museum on International Archaeology Day, organized by Farmington Archaeologist Cody Walton.

“I was really impressed,” said Mark. “There was some solid science being done. Really insightful. I’ve taught some college students and some of the projects were even better than that.”

A photo of a man standing next to a row of table top displays containing various science projects. He is holding a pencil and looking at the displays with a clipboard.
Mark Wiliams, Farmington Field Office Archaeologist, judges projects at the Apache Elementary School Science Fair in early 2024. Williams was asked to assist with the science fair after connecting with faculty at a previous outreach event in Farmington. (Photo by Mark Williams)

Following the science fair, the faculty asked Mark to return to the school to give a presentation on petroglyphs, where he demonstrated a new interactive website the agency is developing, which allows users to virtually view and explore petroglyphs on public lands.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with teachers telling Mark that the students enjoyed the experience and were highly engaged throughout the presentation.

The class Mark presented to is part of a Navajo language immersion program at the school. He says it was a new and rewarding experience in his career to be able to give the presentation and help facilitate that kind of connection between the class and the petroglyphs.

A photo of a man standing in front of students in an elementary school classroom, with display behind him that says "Archaeology."
Mark Willaims, Farmington Field Office Archaeologist, talks about petroglyphs to students at Apache Elementary School. Williams was asked to do the presentation after connecting with faculty at a previous outreach event in Farmington. (Photo by Mark Williams)

“It was really refreshing. To tap into some of that excitement is really cool.”

School faculty told Mark they would love to have more BLM scientists come and visit to provide real world examples of the topics they cover in school, such as geology, physics, and biology, and also what career options are available in those fields.

Several other teachers in other grade levels have also expressed interest in having BLM guest presenters as well, which could lead to a partnership that is beneficial for both the school and the agency.

Darren Scott, Public Affairs Specialist

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