R.E.A.L: Roving Exhibit and Archeological Laboratory

A green cartoon van with a trowel on the side is surrounded by the words Roving Exhibit and Archeological Laboratory

The Roving Exhibit and Archeological Laboratory (REAL) is an educational pop-up designed to bring archeology to the public. We provide flexibility in connecting students and their families with archeological resources. REAL expands accessibility to park resources and the discipline of archeology, by meeting students where they are, whether it’s within the park, at their school, or within their community.

We provide a traveling vehicle outfitted with activities, educational materials, tables, and tents staffed by NARP archeologists. Active sites in parks are largely inaccessible to visitors, but REAL provides a unique opportunity by supporting tangible engagement with archeological resources. REAL allows parks, partners, volunteers, and the public, particularly students and their families, to engage directly with archeology. The roving element provides an opportunity for NARP to be flexible in connecting students and their families with archeological resources. This way students will be able to participate in archaeological activities at their schools or in their communities, as well as within their National Parks!

REAL can travel to any park in the Interior Region 1 across the northeast. We can set up wherever there is room to put 2-6 tables with tents, such as a field or parking lot. Some of the activities that we have offered include:

  • dig boxes
  • cataloging and dating artifacts
  • making toys and pinch pots

  • looking at seeds and pollen under a microscope

  • learning about archeological tools of the trade

  • interpreting historical documents

  • learning about hidden narratives

  • stratigraphic layers

A uniformed NPS ranger and four kids excavate with trowels and scoopers in a dig box
A park ranger shows four children how to excavate in a dig box using trowels.

NPS Photo

REAL can be stationed at accessible contact points in parks to provide tangible educational opportunities that bridge the gap between archaeology and education, with a focus on accessibility for all visitors. Additionally, the pop-up is staffed entirely by NARP members with the option for park rangers from hosting park units to partner and provide local expertise.

The goal of REAL is to promote equity in learning and accessing park resources at park events, schools and other community gather locations, like libraries. Another goal of REAL is to highlight the often untold stories of historically underrepresented groups at these park sites which typically include members of Indigenous and African American communities. We focus on activities that tell students about these shared histories and experiences through archaeology.

REAL is designed to supplement what students learn in school and provide them with skills that they can take into their future education. Many archeological concepts like mapping, excavating, and curating will give students skills that intersect with other STEAM principles. Our lesson plans are designed to complement a fourth-grade curricula; however, participants of all ages are encouraged to participate as well.
A table is set up with a table cloth that says NARP:Northeast Archeological Resources Program, it has a plethora of archeological tools. In the background is a sign that says Roving Archeological Resources Program and a Car with NARP on it.
Image above shows one example of how we set up the educational pop-up.
REAL’s mission is to make archaeology accessible, promote stewardship of cultural heritage, and highlight underrepresented stories. If you are interested in brining REAL to your park, please reach out NARP and we can collaborate to find a time and place.If you would like to have REAL visit your park, school, library, or other community center please reach out to James Nyman (e-mail us) or Amy Fedchenko (
A blue logo that says National Park Foundation: Wonder Calls

Last updated: August 19, 2022