Within two weeks, elementary students somewhere in the United States will receive a box stuffed with 27 objects including a golden spike, a pair of Jazz tickets and a photograph of Brigham Young.
Their task will be to figure out that all of the clues point to Utah and particularly to Bountiful.Tuesday, fifth-graders in Marylyn Billings' classroom at Oak Hills Elementary readied the artifacts for mailing and rated them, stuffing them into envelopes marked "difficult" and "easy." Her students will soon receive a similar package.
Billings' class is participating in the University of Connecticut's biannual "Artifact Box Exchange Network," which helps students develop advanced research and reasoning skills in archaeology, geography and science. Some 400 schools from all 50 states are participating in the exchange.
Annalisa Paxton, 11, explained how she helped prepare two artifacts - a page from a Davis County telephone directory and a small clipping from a blue spruce, the state tree. Any reference to Bountiful and phone prefixes in the telephone listings were obscured, but neighboring towns where left visible.
"They could get the name of different cities and look them up in an atlas," she said, explaining how the class could research the artifact.
The blue spruce was identified by its scientific name.
Jennie Hunsaker, 10, explained how she wrote "The telegraph was first completed in Salt Lake City" in Morse code.
Billings said that the class has spent between 30 and 40 hours collecting, tagging and making sure artifact clues could be found in reference books like atlases, dictionaries and encyclopedias.
"Once they started researching they got quite excited about this. Some of the students came in on a career-ladder day last Thursday (during Easter vacation) and worked on the project," she said.
The class was divided into four groups and given specific subjects to find an artifact for.
For example, under the category of famous person were included a photograph of Brigham Young, his famous words, "This is the right place," and the fact that a university bears his name. Salt was given as an example of a manufactured product and identified by its chemical formula.
Ryan Davis, 11, said he donated an Anasazi arrowhead to the project.
"A friend gave it to me. . . . I guess they can look it up under Indians," he said.
Lawrence Thain, 11, said he helped do research for the project in reference books. "I learned that I can find a lot of things."
Those who receive the artifact box will be asked to guess the "difficult" envelope first. If all else fails, they can open the "easy" envelope, which includes the dictionary definition of Bountiful.
Only the teachers will know where the boxes came from.
"I have been sworn to secrecy," Billings said. *****
Weather charts from the newspaper.
-A piece of cactus.
-A piece of copper wire.
-Population figures of Bountiful.
-A bag of red sand with a photograph of Rainbow Bridge.
-The flag (title) from the Deseret News, with some of the letters blacked out.
-A cut-out of the state map.
-A photograph of a license plate with someone's hand over "Utah!"
-A photograph of the Salt Lake Temple.
-Fool's gold with a note saying "consider this as real, not fake."
-A photograph of the Beehive House.
-The scientific name of a seagull, "Laridae."