Private Independent school from PK through 12th grade.
Early Technology Week
Fifth Grade students are immersed in an authentic learning experience that complements the social studies curriculum. Early Technology Week employs primtive technology skills to demonstrate ways our ancestors lived, and engage students in lost art forms.
While most schools are frantically racing to keep up with ever-changing technology, Hammond takes technology to a whole new level, one that dates back centuries ago: primitive technology. This is technology in which twitter is something a bird does, web refers to the web of life, moodle is the sound a river cane flute makes, and google is simply a large number. But immersing middle school students in an authentic learning experience that brings to life technology employed by Native Americans and colonial period settlers is anything but backwards.
In an attempt to engage students in the core components of the fifth grade social studies and history curriculum, students discover through experimentation these early and primitive technologies. In an era in which the focus is on 21st century skills, Early Technology Week expands the classroom into the natural world. The program quickly grew from a two-day experience to the most highly anticipated week in a fifth grader’s year.
Working with experts from across the country, students spend a week rotating through six project stations presented by visiting primitive technologists. These stations provide activities in the very earliest forms of technology from the burn and scrape method of hollowing bowls and canoes to making flutes out of river can, gourd-working, pine needle and kudzu basket weaving, and deer foot tool kits. Perhaps the most popular is the deer foot tool kit. Students learn to form sharp edged stone knives from flint, which they then use to skin the deer leg. When the project is complete, students are amazed to find that they hold in their hands a pouch, talon candles, rudimentary fishing tackle, and a sewing kit—all from the foot of one deer.
To visit Hammond’s campus during Early Technology Week is to step back in time. The smell of fires burning and venison smoking, coupled with excited exclamations from students making new discoveries, is of a bygone era. Students emerge from the week soot-covered and soiled, but aglow with an inner sense of accomplishment and newly-acquired knowledge from outside the confines of the traditional classroom.
At least for a week, Hammond is successful in taking hand-held computing devices out of students’ hands and replacing them instead with a deer foot. While we race to keep pace with current technology that has helped make so many advances in the way we live and educate students, for that one week, students have a unique opportunity to experience firsthand the struggles faced centuries ago.
The same skills we are accomplishing with modern technology: gathering and assessing information, collaborating, innovating, critical thinking and problem solving, are the same skills mastered by our forefathers. With our early technology program, we are able to demonstrate to students that these 21st century skills were the same set of skills discovered many years ago.