Teach the Earth > Sedimentary Geology > Sedimentology, Geomorphology, and Paleontology 2014 > Teaching Activities > Field Museum Assignment

Field Museum Assignment

Hilary Christensen, Bates College
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 11, 2014


The assignments consists of three essay questions, of which the students were required to complete two of their choice. During a trip to the Field Museum, Chicago, the students were required to use the museum exhibits to explore the questions posed in the assignment. The main goal was to familiarize the students with using museums as a resource, as well as use observation-based techniques of specimens to answer scientific questions.



I gave this assignment during a field trip to the Field Museum in Chicago, taken during a January-term course entitled Dinosaurs And Their Food. The focus of the course was looking at dinosaurs as animals: learning about their biology and ecology in the context of changing floras in the Mesozoic, as well as their cultural relevance to humans.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic familiarity with major taxonomic vertebrate groups, strong writing skills

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity was given in the 3rd week of a 4-week course, as a stand alone exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Observing vertebrate specimens; using museums as a resource

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Major trends in the evolution of vertebrates; convergent evolution in different lineages; using observations as evidence to support a scientific hypothesis

Other skills goals for this activity

Description and Teaching Materials

Field Museum Assignment- using observations of vertebrate specimens to explore scientific questions
Field Museum Exercise (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 61kB Jun11 14)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students turn in written essays, which are evaluated by:
  1. Level of insight into the topic based on specimen observations
  2. Thorough and specific evidence to support arguments
  3. Correct grammar, essay organization, writing mechanics

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