Training up a new generation of archaeologists
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take the Cambridge 6th, 7th and 8th graders on a field trip to the "See the Scrolls" exhibit at Southwestern Seminary. Since we had just finished discussing the background of the NT in one class and the OT canon in the other, it was perfect timing. I worried that the students would be bored with the first part of the tour, looking at artifacts and photos and learning the history leading up to the Qumran era and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but they did great! They asked intelligent questions, showed that they had been paying attention in class by answering the guide's questions, and acted quite respectful. Then, after a short movie, seeing the actual scrolls, and lunch in a genuine Bedouin tent, we ventured outside for the most anticipated part of the day. The seminary has set up a mock Qumran-style dig, so the tour guide showed us the various "rooms" and key features of the Qumran settlement, then set the students free to dig for actual artifacts. They had a blast, digging up a small column, a small fake skeleton, and lots of pottery shards. What a fun experience to share with my favorite middle schoolers!