Archeologist Tuuli Ravantti carried out a survey of user experiences of the Dig It! Initiative model. Based on her study, she compiled a list of recommendations for implementing a successful Dig It! initiative.

1. Pick a suitable target group for your initiative

According to the study, the most suitable target group were seen to be students in grade 4-6.  The teaching of history begins in grade five, which means that the experiences of a grade-four participant in the Dig It! Initiative can be relived and revised the next year. Fifth-grade participants, on the other hand, can connect the project activities to the classroom subject at hand, and sixth graders benefit from revising the themes and knowledge of history and archaeology from a year before, as well as from connecting them to practice.

2. Select a research subject and time that matches student needs

Make sure that the subject is reachable by schools, both geographically and timewise. Take these factors into account right from the planning and budgeting stage of the initiative. The site must be a genuine and meaningful archaeological research subject, by means of which it is possible to get to know the real work of an archaeologist. Furthermore, pay attention to the time of year to be chosen to optimise weather and natural conditions at the site.

3. Adjust group size to resources

The students benefit from active guidance and a close working relationship with the experts. The activities remain under control and student needs can be equally addressed when the size of the group is just right. Therefore, make sure that the fieldwork group size does not become too large in comparison to the available staff, tools, or area of the site.

4. Focus on the pedagogy

Well-planned and goal-oriented pedagogical contents and modes of operation create more deeply engrained memory traces and improve learning. Practical activities become easier when all activities are carefully planned. Sufficiently participatory, guided activities have more effect on achieving the pedagogical goals than the archaeological (excavation/survey) working method.

5. Involve the teachers

Invite the teachers to join the planning work as early as possible. The teachers know their students best and can evaluate their needs and challenges realistically. A dedicated teacher, at their best, acts as a party who supports the project aims both at their end in school and outdoors during the fieldwork period. Make sure to ask for feedback and tips. Teachers are professionals in pedagogy.

6. Communicate and be available

Communicate about the project openly and in good time. Make it easier to contact the project staff and, where possible, try to get acquainted with the students even before the fieldwork period. Make archaeological information available and communicate about the goals and meaningfulness of the activities. The students are interested in why the site is being investigated. What is it that makes your site special and meaningful? Remember to involve the participants even after the fieldwork. The students and teachers are often curious to know, what happened with the research, what was found, and whether the study will be continued. Prepare to communicate the results, in addition to the scientific community, to groups of schoolchildren who participated in the project.