Monday, 7 January 2008

First Activity of 2008 - Dig up the dinosaur

The first activity for 2008 has been published on our website - 'Become a fossil hunter and dig up a dinosaur'. How does a scientist set about digging up a large fossil, like a dinosaur? How can scientists ensure that they obtain the maximum evidence from their discoveries and do not accidentally destroy vital clues?
This activity provides practice in working systematically, in contrast to simply grabbing an item as it is discovered. It could be used to amplify work on fossilisation. The use of a grid could be used to reinforce a lesson in maths or geography. This activity has always been very popular in the UK.


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This sounds like an easy and fun exercise. If you wanted to add the concepts of stratigraphy, correlation and that only certain layers are fossiliferous you could devide the sand into 3 buckets; mix cornmeal in with the sand in one, and flour in with the sand in another; then assemble a three layer stratigraphy, with the bones contained in one layer. Ask the students at the end of the excavation to predict where it would be best to look for more fossils at a second site.
Jane Wynne - Canada

CK said...

Why not try burying something unexpected with your 'dinosaur' bones - like the skull of a baby dinosaur - to extend the 'detective story'. The baby might have died with the adult, or maybe was unborn, or might even be a completely different species ....

Earth Learning Idea said...

Jane's idea (first comment) sounds great and would literally add another dimension to this activity. Our experience at 'Geology Fairs' is that children queue up to have a go and so the sand tray has to be tipped out and then re-assembled very rapidly, so Jane's adaptation would not suit this kind of venue. It would, however, be very useful in a class situation and I look forward to setting it up at a future event.
Peter Kennett

Pete Loader said...

Further to CK's comment, it might also be interesting to leave out one (or more) essential "bones". This would give a more realistic idea of fossil presevation and collection and lead on to questions about reconstructing the morphology of an extinct animal from incomplete data.

Pete Loader

choutzuyu said...

Sir, I think that your activity is very interesting. Pupils can learn many skills from this activity. However, I recommend that you might need to elaborate on this activity in order to make it more meaningful for the students to learn a various skills in this activity.

I suggest to incorporate the 5E learning cycle into this activity. This 5E learning cycle was proposed by Biological Science Curriculum Study(BSCS) in 1988(Bybee,1988; Bybee & Landes,1988). 5E learning cycle include five steps: Engagement、Exploration、Explanation、Elaboration ,and Evaluation. In this learning model, pupils can develop their own methods for digging fossils, and they can consider why scientists use the grid system to ensure that they won’t lose some important messages in digging fossils.

By the way, I still have a question to ask. I don’t know why you have to tell children the story that the rivals universities smashed up their rivals’ fossil bones. I think that story might not be an appropriate example for the pupils’ pure mind. At this age, pupils should learn how to fairly compete with their rivals but not to destroy their rivals. I suggest that you can change a story that will tell children how scientist cooperate with each others in a positive way, instead of negative situation.

Over and above are my suggestions. Because I am a Taiwanese , I can’t write English very well. I hope I haven't offended you in words. Thank for your activity which is very nice and interesting. It aroused me with many ideas in earth science teaching.

Han-Chen Dan said...

This activity may need a huge preparation. it's not an easy job to clean up. But the pupils must really enjoy the process, it's so free! Maybe we can expand the age range of pupils. Older students can also learn a lot. There will be so many reactions between students and teacher. Plenty of knowledges could be earned.