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In their study of archaeological resource conservation, students will use a problem-solving model to identify a problem and solve it creatively.


For each team, a copy of “Decision-Making Sample” and the “Review of the Problem” masters; a copy of the “Decision Making” activity sheet. For each student, a copy of “Rules for Brainstorming.”


The growing concern about destruction of archaeological resources (sites and artifacts) lends itself to a creative problem-solving model. Problem solving is a skill students will need for future success. Students use their creative and critical thinking skills to find useful solutions to current and future problems. When possible, students should be supported to carry out their solutions. In recent years, students across the country have been influential and instrumental in finding and implementing solutions to problems by using problem-solving models. Teachers may wish to experiment with the following model. Listed under Sources, below, are two books for those who want more detailed information on using a problem-solving model.

Problem solving is most frequently done in groups of four students. It can also be done as a whole class under the guidance of the teacher. The more this process is used, the more competent teachers and students become.


  1. Creating Awareness: Make students aware that a problem exists. This can be facilitated by teaching students about archaeology and reading “A Review of the Problem.”
  2. Researching the Problem: Research is essential to problem solving. Students who have experienced many lessons from this teaching guide will have sufficient background for solving archaeological problems. These lessons together with reading the “Review of the Problem” may be adequate preparation for completing the process. Additional research may be done if the students think they do not have enough information.
  3. Brainstorming Problems: Students will brainstorm a list of specific problems related to the overall problem of archaeological resource destruction. This will help to clarify the problem. Encourage students to list as many problems as possible (10 to 25). For example:
    • digging up sites destroys valuable research data;
    • archaeologists cannot learn as much if artifacts are taken away or stolen from a site;
    • Native Americans think graves of their ancestors that are dug up have been desecrated;
    • tourists cannot enjoy and learn from sites if they have been destroyed.
  4. Identifying the Underlying Problem: The students now select the one problem from their list that they think is the most important. “It should be one which, if solved, might solve many of the other problems on the list as well. It may appear individually on the list or it may be a combination of a number of problems on the list” (Crabbe 1988, p. 40). The problem is most easily solved if it is stated as a question beginning with the phrase “How might we?” or “In what ways might we?” and contains one main verb. For example:
    • How might we preserve archaeological sites for enjoyment by the public during the next 100 years?
    • In what ways might we involve community members in the preservation of archaeological resources?
  5. Brainstorming Solutions: “Once the underlying problem has been identified and written, the teams should begin their quest for solutions. This is the time for truly creative brainstorming. Students should stretch their minds as they look for actual ways to resolve the issue they have described” (Crabbe 1988, p. 44). Students should follow the “Rules for Brainstorming” in Appendix 3. Examples of solutions include:
    • Create brochures about how and why to protect sites, and put brochures in a park visitor center.
    • Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper discussing the importance of protection.
    • Talk about the problem of destruction on a radio talk show.
  6. Choosing and Evaluating the Best Solution: Students should review their list of solutions and write their 10 best solutions on the “Decision Making” activity sheet. From this list they should choose their best solution (see “Decision Making Sample” activity sheet). This is done by establishing a set of criteria by which to judge each solution. The criteria should be stated as questions, be problem specific, and establish lasting effects. Here are some examples:
    • Which solution will have the longest-lasting preservation effect on archaeological sites in our state?
    • Which solution will be the quickest to implement? Which solution will be the easiest to implement?
    • Which solution will cost the least to the state taxpayer? Which solution will influence the most people?
    • Which solution will involve the most community members in the preservation of archaeological sites?
  7. Describing the Best Solution: In paragraph form the students describe how they will carry out their solution. They should answer the questions: Who? What? Why? Where? When? How?
  8. Carrying Out the Solution: When possible provide students with an opportunity to carry out their solution. Example: If their best solution is to create an educational display for a visitor center in a national park (or other location), allow time for the construction of the display and arrange for permission to show it.

North Carolina curriculum alignment


Grade 8

  • Goal 2: The learner will use and evaluate information from a variety of sources.
    • Objective 2.01: Analyze and evaluate informational materials that are read, heard, and/or viewed by:
      • monitoring comprehension for understanding of what is read, heard and/or viewed.
      • recognizing the characteristics of informational materials.
      • summarizing information.
      • determining the importance of information.
      • making connections to related topics/information.
      • drawing inferences.
      • generating questions.
      • extending ideas.
  • Goal 3: The learner will continue to refine the understanding and use of argument.
    • Objective 3.02: Continue to explore and analyze the use of the problem-solution process by:
      • evaluating problems and solutions within various texts and situations.
      • utilizing the problem-solution process within various contexts/situations.
      • constructing essays/presentations that respond to a given problem by proposing a solution that includes relevant details.
      • recognizing and/or creating an organizing structure appropriate to purpose, audience, and context.
  • Goal 4: The learner will continue to refine critical thinking skills and create criteria to evaluate print and non-print materials.
    • Objective 4.02: Analyze and develop (with limited assistance) and apply appropriate criteria to evaluate the quality of the communication by:
      • using knowledge of language structure and literary or media techniques.
      • drawing conclusions based on evidence, reasons, or relevant information.
      • considering the implications, consequences, or impact of those conclusions.


Grade 8

  • Goal 1: The learner will analyze important geographic, political, economic, and social aspects of life in the region prior to the Revolutionary Period.
    • Objective 1.01: Assess the impact of geography on the settlement and developing economy of the Carolina colony.
    • Objective 1.03: Compare and contrast the relative importance of differing economic, geographic, religious, and political motives for European exploration.
    • Objective 1.06: Identify geographic and political reasons for the creation of a distinct North Carolina colony and evaluate the effects on the government and economics of the colony.

North Carolina Essential Standards



Grade 8

  • 8.H.1 Apply historical thinking to understand the creation and development of North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.1.1 Construct charts, graphs, and historical narratives to explain particular events or issues. 8.H.1.2 Summarize the literal meaning of…