Lab Exercise for California Academy of Sciences

Kenneth Angielczyk, The Field Museum,


This is an exercise developed for use at the California Academy of Sciences by an undergraduate-level class which explores paleontology or the history of life.
Students are asked to explore the California Academy of Sciences, and explain how their collections are organized and why such collections are important.
Students are then asked to apply critical thinking skills and their knowledge of the scientific method to the exhibition on dinosaurs.

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This activity is appropriate for undergraduate-level courses that explore paleontology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should have a working knowledge of the scientific method, including the rigorous definitions of "hypothesis" and "theory" are required. They should understand that modern organisms are used as analogs to help interpret fossils.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is used as the first Lab activity after the first lecture wherein the scientific method and the process of fossilization were discussed.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Students will explore how and why scientist create and study natural history collections. They will then apply their understanding of the process of the scientific method to real-world examples in the California Academy of Sciences' collections.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will use critical thinking, analyze hypotheses, and use modern analogs to interpret fossil animals.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description and Teaching Materials

Students are given a series of 12 questions, attached below, which may be answered by observing the exhibits at the California Academy of Sciences. Except a pen and perhaps extra paper, no additional materials are required.
California Academy of Sciences Activity (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 20kB Oct18 12)

Teaching Notes and Tips


References and Resources