helping students understand the place they live  
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About the Artifact Box Exchange Network


The initial concept for The Artifact Box was developed by Scott Johnson and Heather Holmberg, a teacher in the Department of Defense Schools in Bierbergemund, West Germany. Heather was a student and Scott was the instructor for a 1983 graduate course conducted for in-service teachers at The University of Connecticut. These educators discussed the problems involved in teaching students how to become independent learners and competent researchers in the field of social science. It was agreed that a wealth of materials already exist to teach students how to use an almanac, road map, encyclopedia, and other reference books. The difficulty lay in the lack of attention given to an intermediate step that would show students how to apply these skills to new content in a meaningful and motivating manner. Borrowing from ideas developed in archaeology and futuristic simulations, Heather worked with Scott to create a technique that would allow students to apply learned research and reference skills in a way that still allowed for teacher supervision and feedback. Heather's original idea was to provide an opportunity for her students to become more enthusiastic about social studies and library research by asking them to collect locally available items that were typical of the history, geography, and cultural influences in their community.