Inventive Vents Teaching resource: What is archaeology? The history beneath our feet
There are many weird and wonderful ventilation shafts on our streets, but you may not have noticed them – they often appear as public sculpture or are disguised as small buildings. They are needed wherever there are underground spaces in use – underground railways, sewers, underground car parks and tunnels – to let hot and polluted air out and introduce clean air. They act as clues to the city beneath our feet.
Teaching resources for 5 sessions have been created in collaboration with Our Hut. It aims to inspire school children’s curiosity in the world around them and develop an understanding of how the physical remains of the past can be uncovered through archaeology.
These sessions should encourage thinking about the secret and invisible workings of the city – transport, services and sewerage below ground through ventilation shafts that have an often-unexplained street presence. It also introduces the concept of stratigraphy: the idea that human activity over time leaves behind layers of remains, one on top of the other, and that archaeologists explore history by digging up and examining these layers.
- Learn about what is going on underground and the history of tunnels and sewers going underground in our underground London presentation.
- Complete this drawing showing everything you think goes on under the city. Think about transport, sewers, power and water. You can also add details above ground. You could do this as a collage if you prefer using materials like coloured paper, tissue paper, pictures from magazines or foil.
- Take a look at our presentation of underground maps and sections.
- Use our London timeline outline to learn about the history of London’s underground infrastructure and tunnelling – going all the way back to the Romans!
- Create your own timeline using our instructions. You could also research one of the events on the timeline more fully and do some writing about it – perhaps imagine you were there at the time and write a diary entry or an account of it in a letter to a friend.
- Play Ventequences, like ‘consequences’ for vent design. Play this game with your household to get ideas for your vent designs and have lots of fun.
- Join the Inventive Vents Challenge! Design your own ventilation shaft and draw, paint, collage or make a model of your idea. Use a design planning sheet before you start building.
- Get inspired by looking at some images of existing ventilation shafts for designing your own.
National curriculum links
This cross-curricular project links with most subjects as follows:
- History: Methods of historical enquiry. London history, in particular the history of London’s underground infrastructure. Changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. The Roman Empire and its impact on Britain. Britain’s settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots
- Maths: Shape, pattern, symmetry, measurement
- Design and Technology: Introduction to architecture, engineering, design and 3D making
- Art: Drawing, designing
- Geography: Location, maps, cities
- Literacy: Reading and writing accounts
- Science: Structure, construction, materials
Please send Our Hut pictures of the work you do – they’d love to see it! And if you have any queries email them at email@example.com. Have fun investigating underground London!