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Historical Artifact-Based Learning

Student Process Guide

Choose one of the artifacts from the Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta website. Read any information about the object and examine the photograph. Answer some or all of the following questions as they apply to each artifact. Complete your work in a journal format, and add any other information or questions that may not be included in this guide.

1. Physical Description

  • What type of object is the artifact (tool, item of clothing, not sure, etc.)?
  • What materials is the object made of?
  • Is the object made of natural or man-made materials?
  • What is the shape, size, and weight of the object?
  • What colour is the object?
  • Are there any designs or writing on the object?
  • Has the object been mended or changed in any way?
  • Does the object look worn or used?
  • Would the object make a sound?
  • Draw a quick, detailed sketch of the object. It may be from one angle or from several, such as the top, bottom, front, back, or sides. Include and label any unique marks, writing, or other evidence that might help you to conclude what the object was.

2. Construction

  • Was it made by hand or machine?
  • How did the maker construct this object? How do you know?
  • Was it made of several pieces? How have they been attached?
  • Is the object complete or is it missing parts? How do you know?
  • What materials or tools would have been needed to make the object?
  • What knowledge or experience did the maker need to make the object?
  • Does it identify when and where the object was made?
  • What types of usage or environmental conditions might have affected the object?

3. Function

  • What do you think was the object's job or function?
  • Who would use this object?
  • What other objects might be used along with this object?
  • Where might the object have been used?
  • Was the object only used for its original function? If not, what was it actually used for?
  • Do we still use this object today or is something else used to do its job or function?
  • What does the object tell you about the person or people who used it?

4. Design

  • Were the best materials used to make the object?
  • Was the object decorated in any way?
  • Would the object do its intended job well?
  • Could the object have been improved in any way? How?

5. Importance

  • How important was the object to the people who made it? Why?
  • How important was the object to the people who used it? Why?
  • Is the object important to a museum?
  • Does the object hold any personal importance to you?
  • Does it remind you of someone or something from your past?

6. Interpretation/Conclusions

  • What does it tell us about the life of the people who made or used it?
  • What does the object tell us about the level of technology at the time?
  • What did you learn about that time period from the object?
  • What information might you have missed by using a two-dimensional digital photograph rather than the actual object itself?
  • What questions do you still have about the object?


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