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McREL Standards Activity


Fossil Fun


Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to identify similarities between modern animals and ancient, extinct animals.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
Science
 Standard 7.Understands biological evolution and the diversity of life
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 1. Knows that fossils can be compared to one another and to living organisms to observe their similarities and differences
Student Product:picture chart
Material & Resources:Access to a natural history museum would be preferable; however, the following web sites can provide information as well:

Nice pictures of plant and insect fossils

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, especially the Fabulous Fossil Page

Types of dinosaurs

Teacher's Note:No supplementary notes for this activity.
Activity
If your class is able to visit a local natural history museum, have the students bring paper and pencil. Additionally, you will want to bring a camera to take pictures of exhibits for the students to use later.

While in the fossil sections, discuss with the class what the reconstructed fossils look like (the reconstructed bones will probably be easier for the students to visualize than fossils). The descriptions at each exhibit should aid you and the class in understanding the fossil’s origins and relationship to modern organisms.

If the class is not able to go to a museum, use the resource web sites listed and others you might find to show sample fossils to the class. This might be easier for students to be able to complete their finished product because they can just print pictures off as they need them.

The finished product will consist of a picture of the fossil and/or reconstruction of an extinct organism on one side of a piece of paper. On the other side the students will find and affix a picture of a modern organism that seems similar to their extinct organism. In the middle they will draw an organism of their own design which contains features from both the extinct organism and the modern organism. On a separate sheet of paper, they should describe the features that they drew in their new organism, explain how the common features were chosen, and anything interesting about the common features among the three organisms (most likely gleaned from their research and museum visit).

It is not important that students choose a "correct" modern ancestor of their extinct organism, nor that their common body parts are accurate. It is more important that the students realize that these animals do have connections.