Citizen Scientists are critical.  The SERC archaeology lab is staffed entirely by volunteers and college students.  Without them, archaeology research at SERC would be impossible. We encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch with us to find out more about becoming an archaeology citizen scientist.  Before signing up, though, you probably want to know what you’re getting into: 

Two roles for Citizen Scientists 

Assistant Citizen Scientists:

-Excavate pits scientists think contain artifacts that speak to the lifestyle of the land’s inhabitants.

-Sift soil from the pits in giant sieves to “pan for artifacts,” such as tobacco pipes, nails, ceramic sherds, and Indian artifacts.

-Trowel the bottom and sides of the pits to reveal color and texture patterns that provide evidence of how the land was used.

-Wash and identify recovered artifacts.

-Other miscellaneous tasks.

While working, you’ll enjoy conversation with others volunteering on the project – the lead scientists, college students and citizen scientists of all ages and backgrounds.  If you enjoy learning new things, meeting new people and being outdoors, this is a great opportunity! 

Read a blog post about excavation activities at the site here.

Research Citizen Scientists:

If you have a strong interest in archaeological science and want to play a more active role in participating in the research, being a research citizen scientist is for you.  Research citizen scientists do many of the same activities as assistant citizen scientists, but with the help of the lead scientists they also:

-Develop original research questions.

-Create procedures to answer those questions.

-Implement procedures, with support from assistant citizen scientists.

-Write reports discussing their methods and findings.

Research citizen scientist positions have stricter eligibility requirements (see below), but the experience can be rewarding because of the opportunity to be part of the research decision-making process.  If you think you would like to be a research citizen scientist but aren’t sure, we encourage you to start out as an assistant citizen scientist.

Eligibility and time commitment

Assistant citizen scientists

-Minimum age is 13. Those under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.   

-Minimum time commitment is one 3-hour visit, but repeat visits are common and encouraged.

Research citizen scientists

-All research citizen scientist appointments are contingent upon a successful interview with the lead scientist.

-Minimum age is 16.  If you are in high school (or any age, for that matter!), only apply if you are motivated and serious about the work.

-Minimum time commitment is 10 hours per month for at least three months.  This is a great summer opportunity for focused students with a strong interest in archaeology.


Location and Days/Times:

The archaeology lab and excavation sites are located on the SERC campus in Edgewater, Md.

The lab is active on Wednesdays from 9a.m.-3p.m., but citizen scientists don’t need to stay the entire day.

To sign up or for more information:

Contact Alison Cawood, SERC Citizen Science Coordinator, at