Gaining a hold on ancient history
Bonnyrigg High School students Eric Heiler and Bradley Bannister are able to relate to ancient history in a way most HSC students couldn't imagine.
Earlier this year they headed to Pompeii, Italy, with their teacher Rob Brown to take part as volunteers in a research project that is looking at the patterns of daily life by studying the structures associated with the storage, distribution, preparation and consumption of food and drink.
"As a teacher I find my experience with the team allows me to provide a unique perspective for my students and hopefully fuel enthusiasm in the subject as well as a deeper understanding of Pompeii," Mr Brown said.
It was a hands-on experience where they truly were doing the things that they read about archaeologists doing in their text books.
"Bradley and Eric, to my knowledge, were the first Australian high school students to be offered the opportunity to participate in an archaeological project in Pompeii.
"They had access to the site and areas that the public never sees.
"It was a hands-on experience where they truly were doing the things that they read about archaeologists doing in their text books.
"On top of all of this, they got to immerse themselves in a very different culture to what they know here and enjoy 'living' in another country, even if only for two weeks."
A teacher needed to be constantly learning, Mr Brown said. Working on the Pompeii Food and Drink Project was "particularly relevant to my teaching of the HSC ancient history course in which Pompeii features as part of the core unit".
"I want to be an expert and I want my students to have the most up-to-date information and access to materials and experiences that many do not get.
"I want history to be more than just a text book or online materials.
"I want my students to understand that history is not just about stuff that has happened but is truly vibrant and ever changing."
The students benefitted greatly from their Pompeii experience.
"The trip allowed me to see everything I learned in context," Eric said.
"I saw major structures like the amphitheatre and the small houses and shops between them.
"The trip was very informative and as well as being in the ancient city I learned so much from the lectures I attended."
Find out more about the Pompeii Food and Drink (PFD) Project.
Photo by Doris McCarter.