Fossils fascinate most children, and so provide a great opportunity to develop science inquiry skills and interest in science as a human endeavour. Fossil Hunters introduces students to the work of palaeontologists through a series of hands on student directed activities.
The Great Fossil Find: In this activity, students are taken on an imaginary fossil hunt. Following a an immersive story, students “find” (remove from envelopes) paper fossils of some unknown creature, only a few at a time. Each time, they attempt to reconstruct the creature, and each time, their interpretation tends to change as new pieces are “found”. Students will finish the activity with a reconstructed animal poster, and are encouraged to justify and explain the configuration of their bones.
Skeleton Dig: Students delve over 200 million years into the past, to a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Working in teams as Palaeontologists, they use the tools and processes of scientific investigation to uncover, reconstruct, measure and identify the 4 Earth Ed fossilised prehistoric skeletons.
Fossil Footprints: Students will handle the Earth Ed collection of real and copies of real fossils. They will recognise and apply the scientific process: “Evidence + Knowledge = Interpretation” used in palaeontology in creating a representation of prehistoric animals. The difference between body fossils and trace fossils will be identified, and the types of information gained from them discussed. Fossilised tracks (footprints) provide evidence about how prehistoric creatures may have moved as well as their size and lifestyle. Students work in small groups to interpret fossil track ways using measuring and deductive reasoning.
Key Learning Outcomes:
- Demonstrate the process of scientific inquiry and discovery through unearthing fossil remains.
- Describe how a fossil is preserved over time in order to be studied by a palaeontologist.
- Apply current scientific methods of investigation when dealing with fossilised remains.
- Classify fossil remains as trace or body fossils and describe the evidence that they provide palaeontologists.
- Appreciate how the fossil record is used to map Earths relative history.
- Consider the implications of a series of data that they have collected in order to reach a justifiable hypothesis.
- Exercise comparative skills by making comparisons with existing animals do develop credible conclusions about prehistoric life forms.
- Develop confidence to question scientific theories by recognising the difference between facts and the interpretation of facts.
Learning Standards (Australian Curriculum):
Fossil Hunters demonstrates the learning addressed through Year 3 & 4 of the Australian Curriculum standards. In particular, it addresses:
- Exploring differences between living, once living and products of living things
- Observing and describing predator-prey relationships
- Collecting evidence of change from local landforms, rocks or fossils
Science as a human endeavour
- Exploring ways in which scientists gather evidence for their ideas and develop explanations
- Science involves making predictions and describing patterns and relationships
Science inquiry skills
- Safely use appropriate materials, tools or equipment to make and record observations, using formal measurements and digital technologies as appropriate
- With guidance, identify questions in familiar contexts that can be investigated scientifically and predict what might happen based on prior knowledge
- Suggest ways to plan and conduct investigations to find answers to questions
- Represent and communicate ideas and findings in a variety of ways such as diagrams, physical representations and simple reports