Archaeology Discovery Trunks for Educators

Overview of Discovery Trunk Contents

What are they? 

Formerly known as "Time Capsules from the Past," Discovery Trunks are teaching bonanzas Office of the State Archaeologist! Our trunks can be borrowed by Iowa educators who seek hands-on materials and lessons that fit core teaching about Iowa's archaeological past and cultural history. The trunks develop students' scientific, cultural, and historical literacy. Current Discovery Trunk themes can be explored below, and new themes are in development. Be sure to check out Discovery Trunk offerings from the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History and Old Capitol Museum too!

Who uses them?

Trunks are used by K-12 educators, homeschooling groups, parents working with local AEAs, libraries, nature centers, and other groups engaged in educational programming.  Trunks can be borrowed or their own, or combined with a visit from one of our educators. 

Why use them?

Each Discovery Trunk helps educators tell unique stories about Iowa's past, using scientific inquiry, archaeology, history, and oral traditions, with themes ranging from Iowa's Ice Age to turn-of-the-century dairy farming. Lessons and activities (aimed at 4th-8th grade learners, but adaptable for all ages) are designed to match state curriculum priorities, such as the Iowa Core and National Science Education Standards, making them ideal teaching toolboxes ready to integrate with classroom activities. 

What do they contain?

Trunks contain many objects, including authentic and replica archaeological artifacts, other scientific specimens, and high quality replicas of especially rare or fragile items. Books and background references for all ages, videos, DVDs, and flash drives with digital content enhance the lessons. Each trunk has a particular theme and contains items specific to the time period/topic.

How do I reserve a trunk?

There is a $25 service fee for all trunks borrowed from the Office of the State Archaeologist. This service fees covers staff time to maintain the traveling trunk program, including processing requests, preparing trunks for shipping, inventorying and replacing items, and making upgrades to trunk contents and lessons. This fee is separate from return shipping.

Thanks to support from the University of Iowa and the Iowa Academy of Science, we are currently able to ship our Discovery Trunks free of charge to teachers and educators. Reservations are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. The trunks may be borrowed for a maximum of thirty days. Beginning July 1, 2019: Extensions are negotiable beyond 30 days, but will be charged $10 per week. We also reserve the right to request a $10/week late fee for tardy trunks. For this reason, please ensure that you are prepared to use the trunk during the date range you request.

We reserve the right to charge for damaged or missing items. Getting (and returning) the trunks is easy and affordable; see the shipping options below.

Shipping Options:

Pick up or drop off the trunk at the Office of the State Archaeologist during business hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm, excluding University holidays. 

Trunks can be shipped to you free of charge!

Trunks shipped back are at the borrower's expense. This is in addition to the $25 service fee. We keep on top of shipping rates with the best-priced vendors, so ask for our input when you make your reservation or when you're returning your trunk. Current rates are around $20-30.


Explore our Discovery Trunks!

New trunks in production:

  • The Archaeology of the Fur Trade
  • Iowaville and the Ioway Indians