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Lesson summary for:
McKittrick Fossil Find Classroom Activity


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In this lesson, 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

Grade level:

50 minutes

Teaching tips:
Student enthusiasm will largely hinge on your showpersonship reading the provided script, or nominating a student who would be good at this!. Assure them that they are working with replicas of real fossils and functioning the way paleontologists actually work. If you would like to use this activity again in the future, make sure students put the fossils back in the envelopes after finishing.

Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

  • The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.

  • 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.

  • Authentic scientific controversy and debate within the community contribute to scientific progress. (P7)

  • Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations. (P7)

Teacher background:

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