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Main Curriculum Tie:
Background For Teachers:
Fossils are the remains or evidences of ancient plants and animals. Fossils provide a record of life that existed on Earth millions of years ago. We are fortunate that the remains or evidences from organisms still exist today. Most living things decay when they die. Decay is caused by bacteria in the environment. If an organism dies and is buried or covered quickly, the process of decay is slowed because of the lack of air. Thousands and even millions of years ago, sandstorms, mudslides, or volcanic ash could have buried many organisms. These organisms could have either gone through mineral replacement or slowly decomposed, leaving impressions or imprints in sediments. Other organisms could have been frozen in ice or snow or caught in sap or tar pits that preserved them for thousands or millions of years. Some organisms left trace marks such as tracks and trails in mud. If the mud hardened and was then covered by more mud, the activities of the organisms can be studied by scientists. Today, there are many fossils that remain undiscovered around the world, because only a small percentage of these fossils will ever be found.
The investigations of this standard have many hands-on activities. They will help students know what the different fossils are and help them understand how nature makes these fossils. They will show students where fossils are found and how they are discovered. The investigations will show how fossils provide clues to Earth’s history and how they provide evidence to make inferences about past environments. Some activities also compare fossils to living organisms of today to see if the organisms still exist or are extinct.
In this investigation, students will be looking at different items to see if they can recognize fossils. This will be an introduction to the different fossils they will be studying. Students will make inferences as to how the fossils were created. It will also lead into a discussion of how fossils give clues about Earth’s history and help us make inferences about Utah’s past environments.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Pre-Assessment/Invitation to Learn
Have a discussion with the students to find out if they know of any plants and/or animals that existed many years ago that don’t exist today. Have them name a few. They will name dinosaurs and possibly some plants. Ask them how we know these plants and animals existed. Students will come up with the idea that we have found fossils. Ask them what fossils have been found. Ask them what fossils are. Most of them will say fossils are animal parts made of stone. Tell students there are other fossils besides those that have been changed to stone. This is a good time to define fossils for students. Tell them that they will learn to identify fossils and will make inferences about past environments of Utah.
Homework & Family Connections
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