This month, local fourth graders will have a unique opportunity to see a historic place in northern Nevada. Nevada Outdoor School (NOS), in partnership with the BLM and other groups, will accompany students to Lovelock, Nevada where they will visit the famous Lovelock Cave. For anyone unfamiliar with Lovelock Cave, it is on the National Register of Historic Places, making it one of many sites in the United States that are essential to the interpretation of our nation’s past and present. Many thousands of artifacts have been recovered from Lovelock Cave over the years, from elaborate mats and bags made of tule and cattail leaves to the remarkable cache of duck decoys; at over 2000 years old they are the oldest in the world! In addition to visiting Lovelock Cave, students will tour the Marzen House museum, which will give them a taste of what life was like way before they were born! Equally exciting, are the variety of presentations and hands-on events led by Paiute Tribe members, representatives from the Emigrant Trail Center in Elko, and many others!
To prepare for this amazing trip, NOS visited classrooms to talk about context and why it is important, especially in archeology. Students played a game where they were challenged to guess a room, when only given a few objects that might be in that room. After each round of guessing, an object was removed so that students would eventually have to guess the room when only given a single object contained in that room! This helped them to understand how crucial context can be. Naturalists spoke about why the Leave No Trace principle of Leave What You Find, is important to follow when exploring the outdoors. NOS Naturalists relay an event that happened a few years ago at Lovelock Cave when an inquisitive student removed a piece of a basket artifact from the cave that an archeologist left out for field trip participants to observe. As a result, everyone didn’t get a chance to see the artifact, and the basket piece is sitting on a shelf, under a bed, or maybe even in landfill where no one can learn from or see it. Students are reminded to take only pictures and leave only footprints.