St. Stephen Middle, Macedonia Middle 'SUBMERGED' in history
Published Thursday, April 4, 2019
University of South Carolina underwater archeologist Nathan Fulmer speaks to students at Macedonia Middle. (BCSD photo)
The Lowcountry of South Carolina is rich in history, and if you know what you’re looking for, you can find evidence of pivotal colonial battles, artifacts predating settlements and shipwrecks that tell stories of pirates and plunder.
Charleston alone is home to the second largest historic district in the world – next only to Rome.
Through a grant-funded program created by the University of South Carolina Maritime Research Division, students at two Berkeley County School District schools had the opportunity this year to examine items that bring the rich history to life. They’ve also learned more about what may be in their own backyards.
In its first year, the SUBMERGED: Underwater Archaeology in South Carolina program visited 8th-grade students at St. Stephen Middle and Macedonia Middle. Those behind the program say the goal was simple.
“We want to get the word out,” University of South Carolina underwater archaeologist Ryan Bradley said. “South Carolina is unique due to the amount of submerged history.”
When it comes to the history found in the waters of the Palmetto State, Bradley said there is also a lot of history in the rivers, lakes and streams.
“There are submerged sites, towns in South Carolina lakes,” he said. “…These are things people are interested in that maybe they hadn’t thought a lot about.
As a part of the program, Bradley and other members of his team visited select schools around the state and spoke of what lies under the water and how underwater archeology continues to help us learn about the past. He used studies relating to the H.L. Hunley Submarine as an example.
“We are still investigating our history, and they (students) want people to know about that. We are still trying to figure out what happened with the Hunley and why it went down. What’s wonderful is most of the kids know about the Hunley,” he said.
At Macedonia Middle, students were excited about the visit of University of South Carolina underwater archeologist Nathan Fulmer. Discussion about the Hunley was memorable, as students had already learned some about the submarine used and sunk during the Civil War.
“Our teachers were able to discuss the Hunley with our students and how it relates to the content presented by Submerged,” Macedonia Middle Principal Don Walton said.
Mr. Walton said one of the biggest benefits of the program was that it brought the experience normally packed into a field trip directly to the classroom.
“Submerged was brought to our students, rather than securing funds to support a field trip,” he said.
At St. Stephen Middle, students were fascinated with discussion on shipwrecks and relics supporting the history found beneath the water.
“It (Submerged) exposed our students to a world that they were maybe unaware of,” said St. Stephen Middle instructional coach Forrest Lowe. “They were fascinated – just knowing that there are relics and historic evidence that exists under our waters that we really don’t think about.”
The core of the program was the classroom visit to each school. However, Bradley said he and team members at the university are working on ways to expand the program.
“We hope to provide resources, videos and lesson plan suggestions. We would like to also travel and meet with schools at teacher conferences,” he said.
Berkeley County School District social studies coordinator Brock Beaver described the experience provided by submerged as “absolutely awesome.”
“Just the ability to have an expert come to the school made the program a big deal,” he said. “For the kids, having that experience and being able to ask questions is incredible.”
Beaver said he hopes the experience sparks something in some of the students.
“Our local colleges have these programs (archeology and underwater archeology),” he said. “Maybe some of our students will explore those opportunities.”
* St. Stephen Middle and Macedonia Middle were selected for the Submerged program following an application process.