Adventure 1

History Center Excursion

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Be a Museum Curator!

Look at what we found in that old trunk!

You have been asked to assist the curator at the History Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in developing an exhibit about a very unusual man named Jay G. Sigmund. He grew up near Waubeek, Iowa, which is close to Cedar Rapids. He was unique because of the many interests and abilities he cultivated throughout his life. He was a life-long learner.

Step 1 - Explore the life of Jay G. Sigmund

To begin, read the biographical information about Jay Sigmund.

Step 2 - Thinking questions

Here are a few thinking questions to help you get a picture of the important events in Jay Sigmund's life.

  • Where was Jay Sigmund born?
  • What did Jay Sigmund enjoy doing as a child?
  • Why do you think he enjoyed those activities?
  • What did Jay Sigmund enjoy doing as an adult?
  • Why do you think he enjoyed those activities as an adult?
  • What were some of Jay Sigmund's talents?
  • Who were some of his friends?
  • How did he influence his friends?
  • How has he been remembered?

Add two or three more questions to the list, and review the Documents to find the answers to your questions.


Step 3 - Developing your interests

After you have read the biographical information and reviewed the documents about Jay Sigmund and have answered the questions about his life, you will be ready to take the next step.

What are your interests and abilities?

Make a chart like the one below and complete each section:







Share your thoughts with your classmates.

Step 4 - Got a hobby?

Do you have a hobby? Is there something you enjoy doing just because it's fun?

One of Jay Sigmund's hobbies was studying archeology and digging for arrowheads along the Wapsipinicon River in Linn County. Even as an adult, he loved going out with his friends to explore the natural world around him.

What's in the natural world around you?

To begin answering that question, read about the Archeology of Iowa.

Step 5 - Just under your feet

You and your friends can take a great adventure and investigate the archeological history of your county.

Some research questions to think about as you get started on your search include:

  • What are the unique archeological characteristics found in my county?
  • Where will I look for archeological information?
  • Who can I contact to find out more about my county's archeological history?
  • What county sites should I go to visit and explore?

Explore the excellent resources in the Media Center as you begin your search.

Step 6 - Share your findings

When you have completed the archeological investigation of your county, develop a display for your classroom that highlights the most important archeological characteristics.

Include pictures of artifacts you find, maps, and narrative descriptions of each item in your display.


Inventory list for Jay Sigmund papers.

1. 1906 Map

View Document

2. Photo - Jay Sigmund as a young man

View Document

3. Photo - Jay Sigmund as a mature man

View Document

4. Jay Sigmund with son James and daughter Mary

View Document

5. Photo - Grant Wood and his wife Sara at the Sigmund Farm

View Document

6. Letter - November 14, 1933

View Document

7. Poem - The Arrowhead, Jay Sigmund

View Document

8. Poem - Fossils, Jay Sigmund

View Document

9. Poem - Sigmund, a tribute to him written by Laul Engle

View Document

Media Center

Books to Read


Alex, Lynn M. Iowa's Archaeological Past. University of Iowa Press, 2000.
Describes the people and artifacts of Iowa's past, including photographs of archaeological discoveries.

Macaulay, David. Motel of the Mysteries. Houghton Mifflin, 1979.
Presents a study of modern civilization from the viewpoint of archaeologists in the year 4022 who are examining artifacts of twentieth-century American life.

McIntosh, Jane. Archeology (Eyewitness Books). DK, 2000.
Explores the world of archaeology and looks at some of the techniques that are used by scientists to piece together information about past civilizations. Contains numerous color photos of actual artifacts.

Other Resources on the WWW


Archaeology Digs and Simulations

West Perry Archaeological Site
Contains pictures of student-created artifacts and a simulated dig as part of an eighth grade class project. Provides steps for implementing a similar project in other schools.

Archaeological Analysis: Pieces of the Past: Exercise Introduction
An interactive simulation showing how an analysis of artifacts can help determine the main features of an archeological site. Web site visitors can test their knowledge of archaeology by placing simulated artifacts in the correct underground layer.

Archaeological Analysis: Pieces of the Past
Describes the procedures involved in setting up an archaeological dig.

Kids Dig Reed
An interactive, animated visit to a 200-year-old farmstead in West Virginia gets one as close to a historic dig as possible without getting dirty hands. Visit the "Discovery Zone" and follow the links through the excavation process. Survey the land, run the metal detector, screen for artifacts and more.

Archaeology as a Career

Ask Dr. Dirt: I Want To Be an Archaeologist
Provides information about the field of archeology in the form of questions and answers posed to an imaginary archaeologist.

Archeology in Iowa

Iowa Investigative Report
A listing of numerous links to sites about the history of geology and animal life in Iowa, including dinosaurs and fossils.

Browse Area
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Bureau provides an extensive list of links to Iowa's archeological past, including information on everything from floods to fossils.

Office of the State Archeologist-University of Iowa
Provides links to numerous sites and teacher resources about the archeology of Iowa.

Geologic Studies and Water Programs
Provides many links dealing with the current and past geological formations in Iowa.

Bedrock Geology and Bedrock Topography of Iowa
An excellent full-color map showing the ages of the various rock structures found throughout Iowa.

Learn About Iowa's Past
Includes excellent links to information about Iowa's geologic past as well as information about archaeology today.

Panchyk, Richard. Archaeology for Kids: Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Past: 25 Activities. Chicago Review Press, 2001.
Provides an overview of the archaeological process, from research to preservation and describes how artifacts can help people learn about the past.

Scheller, William. Amazing Archaeologists and Their Finds. Oliver Press, 1994.
Contains profiles of nine famous archaeologists and the treasures that they uncovered.

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