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Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) WarmUp Activity: The La Brea Tar Pits

Laura Guertin, Penn State University Delaware County
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1) What is "tar" and how does it form?

2) List the animals that have been uncovered in the tar pits that you didn't know were native to North America. Why do you think these animals are now extinct?

3) What else are scientists looking at besides the bones in the tar pits? Why?

Student Responses:

See the Just-in-Time Teaching page on assessment for information and ideas on how to evaluate student responses.

References and Notes:

Articles that students may be assigned to read for this set of questions include (but are not limited to):

"Return to the Ice Age - La Brea Exploration Guide" Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (more info) .

The use of Just-in-Time Teaching is discussed in detail on the JiTT Starting Point page.

Additional information on JiTT is available in the book:



Resource Type

Activities:Classroom Activity:Just in Time Teaching

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Evolution, Biosphere


Time/Earth History, Biosphere


Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience