Future Artifacts
Teacher:  Bonnie Webb

Overview: This activity is adapted from a workshop presented at the Georgia Association for Gifted Children's Convention. Athens, GA 1999. Students assume the role of archaeologists in the year 3001. Most history has been erased due to an aggressive computer virus in the early 2000s. Starting over, their challenge is to determine and explain the uses of the many artifacts left behind by the lost societies.


  • assorted objects (number determined by class size and procedure)
  • clear plastic boxes (optional- but recommended)
  • Chart for Students (Students may be assigned to create the chart.)
    • Chart held horizontally with the left column should have spaces to list the numbers of four or five artifacts. Along the top are the categories Education/ Home Appliance/Tools of a Trade or a Profession/Transportation/ Recreation/ Cultural / Technology/ etc.
  • paper and pen or pencil

Preparation: Teacher/students collect small objects commonly used today. Examples: floppy disk, paper clips, thumbtacks, faucet, etc. Optional: Separate and place in clear plastic boxes Number each object

Time: 2 hours

Instructional Sequence :

Part One:

  • Arrange students into small groups and distribute artifacts.
  • Introduce the scenario.
  • Instruct students that the uses of the artifacts in front of them are unknown. Advise them to look carefully at each artifact and to remember that they have no prior knowledge of these artifacts. Students should also be aware that an artifact could be a part of a larger object.
  • Students record the number of the artifact in the left hand column.
  • Students write a very brief explanation of what purpose the artifact may have served under the appropriate column/category.

Part Two:

  • After all students have recorded 3-4 observations, display the completed charts around the room.
  • Provide the students an opportunity to review the charts and select one artifact and explain why they find it interesting.
  • Each student then writes "the story" of his/her artifact. Stories might include answers to the following:
    • What was it used for?
    • How was it made?
    • What people used it?
    • Who invented it?
    • Is a similar device still used today?
    • How has it been improved on over the years?
    • If it is a part of a larger item describe the larger one.
    • Explain how it worked.
    • Why is it no longer needed?
    • (Any other questions that the class or teacher can generate)

Evaluation: Artifact Chart and Story

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