Virtual Sandbox Archaeology: Introducing Archaeology to Kids Amidst a Global Pandemic

Maria Kathryn Nebres Purnell1 & Andrea Natasha Kintanar2

1Archaeological Studies Program, University of the Philippines, Philippines

2Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany

Cultural and heritage education is a work in progress in the curriculum and general public interest in the Philippines. With archaeology at the center, the Tuklas Pilipinas Society (Tuklas) – a non-government organization composed of volunteer archaeologists and students of the UP Archaeological Studies Program – conducts activities like ArchaeoTrails and Sandbox Archaeology to encourage awareness and appreciation of our past leading us to where we are today. Tuklas’ Sandbox Archaeology allows people to experience field methods of an archaeological excavation. Although the pandemic globally forced a halt, it provided an opportunity to reimagine how activities like Sandbox Archaeology could recontinue – migrating to online workshops with customized kits. In the past two years, Tuklas has produced several virtual sandbox archaeology activities for children aged 3 to 12 years old. This presentation covers Tuklas’ experiences of organizing virtual sandbox archaeology activities for kids over the pandemic. Many participants were enthralled by the cookie excavation and pottery reconstruction activities, but admittedly it has been a challenge assessing how effective the workshops are in building interest among the children to explore more of archaeology afterwards. Empowering more volunteers to facilitate the workshops is also encouraged to strengthen the diversity of people part of Tuklas’ mission of cultural and heritage education in the country. Creating a regular pacing of the workshops would also stabilize the program as we continue revising it in preparation of a return to face-to-face setups in post-pandemic Philippines. It is hoped this presentation sparks discussion in enticing archaeology to a young audience, and as an advocacy initiative, how we can promote awareness and appreciation of the discipline inside and outside the classroom, in a reimagined, safe, and public-friendly setup, encouraging more academics to replicate the same in their own settings.