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Afterschool program helps kids dig into science and archaeology


Children participate in Sam Noble Museum’s Spike’s Club in Norman. | Photo provided - CHARLES G. BAKER
  • Charles G. Baker
  • Children participate in Sam Noble Museum’s Spike’s Club in Norman. | Photo provided

Carrie McKenzie and the team of scientists and educators at Sam Noble Museum, 2401 Chautauqua Ave., in Norman have dug up fantastic afterschool adventures for grade-schoolers this fall.

It’s called Spike’s Club: Can You Dig It?, and if you’re thinking archeology, well rock on because you’re right, said Carrie McKenzie, museum public programs coordinator.

Sessions for first- and second-graders are five consecutive Tuesdays, Sept. 27, Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25. Sessions for children in third through fifth grades are Thursdays, Sept. 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20 and Nov. 3.

Spike’s Club is an ongoing program of the museum and is now in its seventh year.

“Tuesdays will be for our junior session kids, which are first- and second-graders. Thursdays are for our seniors, who are in third through fifth grades,” McKenzie said. “Each week, we will have two hours to really immerse in the exploration of archeology. We’ll have hands-on activities, crafts, games and challenges each week.” The series culminates with the opening of Sam Noble exhibit Mystery of the Mayan Medallion, which program participants can interact with, McKenzie said.

The archaeology-themed exhibit is on display Oct. 15 through Jan. 16, 2017, in the museum’s Fred E. and Enid Brown Gallery. McKenzie developed Spike’s Club curricula with heavy input from Sam Noble’s archeology team.

McKenzie has been with the museum about a year and was an education specialist at Oklahoma WONDERtorium in Stillwater prior to that while she earned a master’s degree in early childhood education.

“I learned early on that I really enjoy informal educational programming, and I have always had a passion for natural history,” she said. “[Spike’s Club] will be a real immersion. Kids will handle real artifacts and will excavate their own relics from dig boxes using picks, trowels and brushes, just as archeologists do in the field.”

An outdoor activity planned for the young archeologists is a game devised to teach kids how archeologists decide where to dig.

“Archeologists have to figure out where to dig, using information they gather about the area and then applying deductive reasoning, and that’s what the kids will do, but to make it a little more fun, it will be a race, too,” McKenzie said. “We will plant archeological ‘finds.’ For example, we might be looking for arrowheads.”

Each two-hour session features inside and outside activities and includes a healthy snack of fruit, vegetables and cheese sticks about halfway through.

Cost to attend the five-week Spike’s Club is $50 for museum members and $60 for nonmembers. Enrollment is limited to 14 children per age group.

Spring rebirth

In the spring, Spike’s Club undergoes a bit of a metamorphosis. Rather than being a five-week series with classes held each week focused on the same theme, it becomes a monthly event with a unique theme each time. Kids can attend all five months or drop in as their interest is piqued and their schedules allow.

“Our spring themes will include dinosaur eggs and babies; bugs, in conjunction with our Ugly Bugs exhibition opening in the spring; one session based on our Oklahoma exhibit; a Pokémon GO! themed session we’re calling Gotta Catch ’Em All, and since our last one is on May 4, it will be called May the 4th Be With You and will be about physics.”

Spring Spike’s Club sessions are $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Learn more and register at

Print headline: Archeologists wanted, Spike’s Club returns to Sam Noble Museum this fall.

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