It's not often children are explicitly instructed to break something, but last week's Puzzle of Pots at the Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library was the exception.
During the program, about 20 children gleefully dropped -- sometimes more than once, as necessary -- a paper bag containing a clay pot, each awaiting the desired sound of it shattering inside the bag.
"Breaking it was fun," said 7-year-old Kaleb Hinkle of Groveport, who then labored with his grandmother, Linda Stacy, to reassemble the broken pot.
Led by archeologist Jeff White, Puzzle of Pots was a hands-on exercise in the art of archeology.
White, a 2004 graduate of the University of West Florida, in 2009 founded Archeology, Can You Dig It?
After holding numerous jobs in the archeology field -- including at ASC Group and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, a COSI-like center in Dayton -- White founded his own business leading hands-on archeological exercises for students at schools, libraries and other places.
"As a kid, I was really interested in ancient Egypt and ancient Rome. Their histories and their cultures really fascinated me," said White, a graduate of Hartley High School.
In Puzzle of Pots, children first decorated the pots and were instructed to make different markings on the rim and the base of the pot.
The markings, White said, make it easier to determine which pieces, when broken later, were part of the rim and which were part of the base.
After being decorated, the pots were placed in bags and dropped so as to contain the pieces and prevent shards from injuring anyone.
"Then they put the pieces back together, just like an archeologist would do," White said.
Barbara Cooper of east Columbus said she frequently visits the Whitehall branch with her three grandchildren.
"They have such good programs here," said Cooper, who helped her grandchildren reassemble the broken pots.
Stacy said she was in Whitehall on other errands and stopped by to sign up her grandson for the library's summer-reading program.
"We found out this was going on and stayed," she said.
Library officials said Puzzle of Pots and other similar programs are designed as a pathway for reading.
"Our Summer Reading Challenge is filled with engaging programs just like this that are designed to spark curiosity and promote reading," said Brittany Tesar, youth services manager at the Whitehall branch.
"Everything we do ties back to reading and making sure that children have access to books all summer long."