The Rio Grande Valley is a treasure trove of history … most of it buried in the ground.
“This area is one place from a research point in archaeology that is virtually a tabula rasa…. There is a rich, historical legacy out here and a potentially rich archaeological one,” said well-known historical archaeologist Dr. Russell Skowronek, who came to UTPA in fall 2009 as a professor of both history and anthropology.
Through CHAPS, an innovative K-16 college preparation and completion program he designed, Dr. Skowronek and his team have found a way to leverage the region’s rich history to inspire school children by combining the thrill of discovery with the mastery of math, science, language/ communication and social studies skills.
Broadly interdisciplinary, CHAPS uses historical archaeology to achieve an integrated approach to learning science, math, communication and bilingual skills in a gradual step-by-step process that grows in mastery of knowledge and skills from K-16. It counters boredom and destructive distractions with physical activity, which archaeology requires, and with the thrill of becoming, from a young age, a discoverer and preserver of each child’s own history.
The goal of CHAPS is to produce literate citizens who understand the cultural and natural legacy of the region – by partnering UTPA with K-12 schools throughout the Rio Grande Valley. This is accomplished by working with South Texas educators to create powerful hands-on archaeological and historical discovery as well as preservation experiences for their students.
CHAPS incorporates joint scholarly research, the expertise of UTPA faculty from five colleges, and the Library in collaboration with educators from South Texas public and private schools. Together, they create curricula for K-12th grade students focused on local history, archaeology, and earth sciences. With several school districts already using lesson plans designed by CHAPS, the program is seeking funding to introduce the curricula to more K-12 students throughout South Texas.
To find out more about how this innovative program is getting young students excited about learning and better prepared for college, visit the CHAPS website or contact:
Associate Vice President of University Advancement
Phone: (956) 665-5301