Think Like an Archaeologist

Program Description:

Think Like an Archaeologist is a four classroom session program, with an additional visit to the RISD Museum at the Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, or the Rhode Island Historical Society's John Brown House Museum. The sessions introduce 6th grade Social Studies students to the whole process of archaeology, from choosing an excavation site and learning to dig, to analyzing and caring for artifacts. Each session is hands-on, led by faculty, staff, and doctoral students from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. This is a partnership program between Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, the RISD Museum at the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Rhode Island Historical Society for 6th grade Social Studies students in the Providence Public Schools.


  • Enhance social studies curriculum by helping students to think about how people learn about the past

  • Develop critical thinking skills, especially emphasizing how to examine historical “facts”

  • Encourage students to practice writing skills, collaborative problem solving, group work, and public speaking skills

  • Introduce students to key archaeological concepts, such as stratigraphy, mapping, and dating

  • Help students learn to synthesize different sources of information on different scales

How to Be Part of Think Like an Archaeologist:

For teachers based in the Providence area, applications are available on our How to Get Involved page, or request one from the Joukowsky Institute (

For those not able to participate in the full program, materials can be made available for classroom use.


  • Educators from Brown, the RIHS, and RISD will come to your classroom, during your class time, to offer four sessions.

  • Sessions are designed to fit into a typical class time, between 45 and 60 minutes long.

  • Four classroom sessions are typically held over a two-week or three-week period, interspersed with your regular class meetings.

  • Museum visits can be scheduled for either slightly prior to the classroom sessions, or immediately following the sessions.

Program Educators:

  • Each session is led by a minimum of two guest educators.

  • Educators are drawn from a trained and experienced group of staff and graduate students at Brown University, RISD Museum, and the Rhode Island Historical Society.

  • Program educators have offered these sessions for over 1500 students in the Providence Public School system.


  • Educator-led sessions and museum admissions are entirely free.

  • Transportation for the museum visit can be subsidized, so that fieldtrips are now nearly always free for students and schools. We encourage you to apply for funding from the Big Yellow School Bus Grant Program ( if possible.