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Students play the roles of paleontologists on a dig. They “unearth” a few fossils at a time and attempt to reconstruct the animal the fossils represent.
UC Museum of Paleontology
~ 40 minutes
An excellent lesson for demonstrating and discussing the nature of science. Adaptable to multiple grade levels. Best to laminate sets of the “fossil bones” for repetitive use.
Adapted from ENSI's Great Fossil Find.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Life forms of the past were in some ways very different from living forms of today, but in other ways very similar. (LS4.A)
- There are similarities and differences among fossils and living organisms.
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.
- Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations. (P7)