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Teen scholars uncovering Denver history at City Park


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The Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s summer mentorship program encourages underrepresented youth to get into STEM fields.

DENVER — Teenagers are unearthing Denver’s history at City Park. Alongside scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), they’re getting the chance to step into the shoes of an archaeologist. 

It’s all part of the museum’s 7-week summer mentorship program to help get more underrepresented students into STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. 

Archaeologist and research scientist with DMNS Erin Baxter said City Park has never been formally excavated and they’re excited to learn from what they find. 

“They’re matching up photographs to areas of the park where activities happened and we’re targeting those areas for archaeological research to see if we can find formal gardens that have never been mapped, the grand stand, for instance, for the gentleman’s riding club which collapsed in 1899,” said Baxter. “I’d love to dig there.”

They’ve used ground penetrating radar to find anomalies beneath the surface and pinpoint where to look.  

Baxter said people like Mamie Eisenhower picnicked at City Park, Martin Luther King Jr. walked there, the suffragettes and the American Indian Movement marched there, to name a few. She said they’re excited to uncover more lost stories. 

“There’s also potential for prehistoric history, about indigenous community members who have been in this area and we’ve actually found indications of that from a prehistoric flake that Leona found just last week,” said Baxter. 

Besides that, Baxter said they’ve also found fragments of glass, and metal, from the last 120 years. 

“I know at some point in the early 1900’s there used to be a road that ran right through here and went up to the front of the museum, so I’m hoping to find something that shows there was the road here,” said Jasmine Baldovinos, a junior at Thunder Ridge High School. 

Baldovinos was one of 200 high school students who applied to the museum’s summer mentorship program. Only nine students were selected to work on the City Park Archaeology Project. 

“I’ve learned quite a lot with this job,” she said. “I never knew there was so much to this park and I’ve also learned how to do archaeology with either screening the dirt or constructing the 1×1 meter dig sites.” 

High school juniors and seniors who are interested in applying next year should check the museum’s website in January 2025 for the application. Students can choose between subject areas like archaeology, paleontology, curation and collections. 

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Teen scholars uncovering Denver history at City Park

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