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Paleontology Teaching Activities


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Create a Cladogram part of Activities
Create a cladogram using nails,screws, and bolts. Teaches students not familar with paleontology about cladistics using items most students have seen before.

How do we recognize and use fossils in outcrop? part of Activities
Students find fossil hunting rewarding and fun. However, it is important that field trips to fossil localities go beyond mere hunting ("Is this a fossil?") and lead students to ask "What is the ...

Clam Dissection part of Activities
Dissecting a living clam to see how soft parts and life mode can be reconstructed from the preserved shells. Note: clams are purchased at a local market.

Theoretical Morphology Modeling the Growth of Clonal Organisms part of Activities
Students use a Matlab/Octave program to model the growth of stromatoporoid sponges in a variety of different sedimentary conditions and exploring how assumptions about their growth affect their morphology. Main ...

Evolution vs. Creationism Term Paper Assignment part of Activities
A term paper assigned for a Evolution vs. Creationism freshman seminar class. The purpose of this assignment is to allow students to critically evaluate one aspect of the Evolution vs. Creationism debate.

Graphic Correlation Exercise part of Activities
This is a graphic correlation lab exercise. It builds quantitative skills. It also gives students practice interpreting data and drawing geological and biological conclusions.

phenogram construction part of Activities
This is a simple exercise where students construct a phenogram using a collection of different fossils or random objects.

Field Project: Fossil Collection, Identification, and Report Writing part of Activities
The primary purposes of this exercise are to assemble a collection of fossils in the field, to gain experience in fossil identification, to interpret the mode of life and environment in which the organisms lived, ...

Quaternary Faunal Environments part of Activities
This project uses the online database FAUNMAP to compare the spatial distribution of mammals during the late Quaternary. Comparisons are made with the spatial distribution of a variety of extinct and extant taxa. ...

Correlation part of Activities
Rocks from different regions can be correlated by fossils, by rock type, and by absolute dates. This exercise is meant to illustrate to students that many different parts of a rock record can be correlated, but do ...

Rickard Hill Field Project: Peering Into Deep Time part of Activities
In this field activity, students make observations of the texture, lithology and fauna of two limestone units and use this information to reconstuct paleoenvironments, how these environments changed through time ...

Field Lab - Stromatolites part of Activities
The lab requires students to make detailed observations on an outcrop, both about the fossils (stromatolites) and the lithology. It addresses the two 'content goals' of the course: assessing mode of life ...

Hands-on Activities for understanding Ammonite Sutures part of Activities
This lab/project/topic starts with a hands-on activity that can be accomplished in one to two hours, depending on how you do it. It is designed to make students demonstrate they know (really) what sutures are in ...

Describing Fossils part of Activities
Make a line drawing of a brachiopod from a published description. Formally describe a brachiopod specimen. Identify specimens from descriptions written by other students.

Ontogeny part of Activities
This activity allows even the youngest of learners to understand what the concept of ontogeny is, relative to humans and also applied to learning about dinosaurs.

Ontogeny-Anisometric Growth part of Activities
Randomly select growth rates for different parts of a trilobite skeleton, and follow the animal through two molt stages to see how morphology can change with ontogeny.

Layer Cake Geology part of Activities
This activity visually introduces students to the idea of geologic time and the correlation between time, rock layers and fossils. It uses the familiar, relevant example of cake but teaches important concepts such ...

The Unknown Fossil Report part of Activities
Students each receive a fossil of unknown identity. They describe the specimen in as much detail as possible. They interpret as much information as they can from the specimen.

Oral Presentation of a Fossil Group part of Activities
Students present a 10 minute Powerpoint presentation on a fossil group of their interest. Illustrations and handouts are required.

Lab 9: Stalked echinoderms, graptolites, conodonts, and trace fossils part of Activities
Last lab for my invertebrate paleontology course, which covers some of the lesser known groups. Strength is that the students get to see fossil example of each of these groups to help bring them to life rather just ...