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Lesson summary for:
Great Fossil Find


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Students are taken on an imaginary fossil hunt and hypothesize as to the identity of the creature they discover. Students revise their hypotheses as new evidence is "found."


Grade level:

~40 minutes

Teaching tips:
An excellent lesson for demonstrating and discussing the nature of science. Adaptable to multiple grade levels. A similar lesson has been developed entitled Xenosmilus. Best to laminate sets of the “fossil bones” for repetitive use.

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)

  • Fossils provide evidence of past life. (LS4.A)

  • There are similarities and differences among fossils and living organisms. (LS4.A)

  • The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P6, NOS3)

  • Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.

  • Science is a human endeavor. (NOS7)

Teacher background:

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