Fossils provide a valuable record of the plant and animal life and environmental conditions from millions, even billions of years ago. In this lesson, students create their own fossils and then use multimedia resources to learn how real fossils form and what scientists can learn from them.
Fossils are preserved traces or remains of living things. Paleontologists who study fossils look for teeth, bones, shells, petrified wood, molds and casts, traces or carbon shadows, or even entire animals.
The classroom resource provides a slide show that will describe fossils and how they form. There is also a short test that can be used to assess students' understanding.
The teacher will present an informational text from the website, ReadWorks. The students and teacher can interact with this non-fiction text by annotating the text digitally. The students will answer the questions associated with the article as an assessment. This learning activity can be used to explain that fossils can provide evidence about past environments and organisms.
This lesson is the first of a two-part series on fossils. In the first part of this lesson, students will discuss what they know about horses. They will then do the same for a Stegosaurus. This comparison is subtle but demonstrates what they know as fact and what they know as theory, and more importantly, what sort of proof scientists need for facts to exist. As students discuss the Stegosaurus, they will realize that fossils tell a story about the animal. They describe facts, i.e. how tall, how wide, what kind of teeth, and they describe ideas, i.e. what the dino may have eaten, how fast it may have moved due to its leg structure, and how it may have hunted. Once students have an understanding of how to extrapolate facts and ideas from fossils, they will do some of their own digging in the second part of this lesson to practice using the thinking skills they've obtained.
This lesson is the second in a two-part series on fossils. This lesson explores what information can be discerned by comparing fossils to living organisms. Students continue their exploration of fossils and are responsible for using what they have learned to do their own extrapolating. This lesson allows students to go through an "interview" with the remains of a Protoceratops. In preparation for the interview, students first brainstorm the questions for which they would like answers and then narrow their questions to those that can really be answered by studying the Protoceratops fossils.