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Students will act as paleontologists and attempt to figure out the environment where various fossils would have existed.
Understanding how the pieces of the fossil puzzle fit together allows the paleontologist to imagine Earth as it was millions of years ago. Fossils are the recognizable remains, such as bones, shells or leaves or other evidenced, such as tracks, burrows, or impressions, of past life on Earth. Scientists who study fossils are called paleontologists. Remember that paleo means ancient, so a paleontologist studies ancient forms of life.
Fossils are fundamental to the geologic time scale. The names of most of the eons and eras end in zoic, which refers to animal life, because these time intervals are generally recognized based on animal life. Rocks formed during the Proterozoic Eon may have fossils of relative simple organisms, such as bacteria, algae, and wormlike animals. Rocks formed during the Phanerozoic Eon may have fossils of complex animals and plants such as dinosaurs, mammals, and trees.
Note: paleo means ancient, meso means middle and ceno means recent so we have Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras.
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning
Invitation to Learn
Understanding how the pieces of the fossil puzzle come together helps the paleontologist to imagine the earth as it was millions of years ago. Tell the students they are going to be a paleontologist for this activity. As paleontologists they have found an abundance of fossil remains and they need to figure out the environment where the fossils would have existed. Based on the fossils they have found, they will draw a map showing the environments present in a certain area more than 70 million years ago. This activity will use drawings of fossils. If you have access to actual Utah fossils and are comfortable using them do so.
- - Linda Williams, Teaching for the Two-Sided Mind
Children come to school as integrated people with thoughts and feelings, words and pictures, ideas and fantasies. They are intensely curious about the world. They are scientists, artists, musicians, historians, dancers and runners, tellers of stories, and mathematicians. The challenge we face as teachers is to use the wealth they bring us. They come with a two-sided mind. We must encourage them to use it, to develop both types of thinking so that they have access to the fullest possible range of mental abilities.
- - Seymour Sarason, Parental Involvement and the Political Principle: Developing a culture of high standards for all
To learn because you have to is one thing; to learn because you want to is quite another thing. And that is the overarching criterion: school is a place a very young child enters with awe, curiosities, expectations, questions, and the desire to feel competent and recognized, and that young child should have those personal characteristics when he or she finishes formal schooling. For those characteristics to be extinguished, to go underground, to get expressed primarily in fantasy is to impoverish a lifetime. When a child has graduated from high school and that child is motivated to learn more about self and world, then, schooling has achieved its overarching purpose.