AUBURN — Colin Kingery's eyes rarely darted from the dirt he was digging through for artifacts Saturday.
Colin, 6, and his sister, Nora, 4, were at a junior archaeologist event at the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn. The U.S. National Park Service hosted the event, in which service employees guided children through a "dig" and recorded their observations.
Colin proudly showed off his fossil books to the employees before the dig. Colin, with gloves on, dug through a large plastic tub filled with dirt to uncover objects such as what appeared to be pottery pieces. Nora hovered by her father Lisle Kingery's legs at first, but eventually joined in on a separate dig with her brother.
Park service employee Amy Roache-Fedchenko helped the siblings form hypotheses about each item, such as what they were made from and who might have used them.
At one point, Hayden Taylor explored the dirt at a dig with her siblings, twins Nathan and Brandon Taylor.
"We don't mind if we get dirty," Hayden, 8, declared with a smile on her face.
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"Well, that's step one for archaeology," employee Jessica Bowes said with a slight laugh. "There's no such thing as a clean archaeologist."
Roache-Fedchenko, who along with Bowes is a museum specialist at Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, has held a lifelong fascination with archaeology. She said her mind was set ablaze at a young age by the idea that someone had used, thrown out and lost objects only for an archaeologist to be the first to unearth and lay eyes on those objects in hundreds of years.
Since archaeology is a science, Bowes said, archaeologists study additional factors about objects such as the kind of soil they were found in and how deep in the earth they were found — the deeper an object was discovered, the older it usually is, she said. She feels archaeology can help people learn about and connect with people she is separated from by hundreds of years. For example, she said she had done excavations around Harriet Tubman's house and in places where American slaves had resided.
"As a kid I knew that we have a lot of records written abut the past, but I also knew that there were a lot of people whose voices aren't written down," Bowes said.
Roache-Fedcheko said she enjoys encouraging children's interests in archaeology.
"Fostering that sense of discovery is always exciting," she said