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Science and Children >  > Science in Process: Discovering The Past at Santa Cruz 
Cover image for "Science in Process: Discovering the Past at Santa Cruz"
By Mary Tisdale, Richard Brook, and Carl Barna
Today, we can easily recognize the relevance of science to everyday life. But science has been around much longer than the advent of particle accelerators and space exploration. In fact, humans have depended on a growing body of scientific knowledge throughout history. Consider the meeting of the Native American and European cultures several centuries ago. European engineers built seaworthy ships and navigators guided them across vast distances. These explorers brought with them applications of scientific concepts, such as firearms, unknown in the Americas.

For thousands of years, Native Americans had been perfecting agricultural practices and forms of housing well adapted to their environment. They created lovely works of art in pottery and textiles for everyday use.

When the two cultures encountered one another, they shared many things, including their knowledge of science.

Today, archaeologists and historians share information as well when they explore this significant encounter. By doing so, they have pieced together the story of a Spanish military fort, or presidio, located in the northern Spanish borderlands of the eighteenth century. This area, known to the Spaniards as the Pimeria Alta, is today southern Arizona. The history of the Presidio of Santa Cruz de Terrenate is a chapter in the story of Spain's exploration and settlement of the Americas. The site itself is one of millions of historic and archaeological properties located on the public lands that belong to all Americans. The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management manages these properties and provides information explaining what they are, what they mean, how to protect them, and how to enjoy them.

Our exploration of Santa Cruz provides an excellent opportunity to bring multicultural, interdisciplinary materials into the classroom. As well, the suggested activities can easily be adapted for various grade levels and other nearby historic and archaeological sites.

Art by Joel T. Ramirez

Last updated: 11-13-2009