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Jurassic Park Debate

Exercise by Constance M. Soja and Deborah Huerta - Starting Point page by R. Teed (SERC)
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This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


This role-playing exercise casts students as scientific specialists, assigned to a group either supporting or opposing the cloning of dinosaurs. There are 4-6 specialists (or groups of specialists): geneticists, ecologists, etc., on each side. Each side researches for a couple of weeks and presents its argument in class (usually a single class period for each side), and other students can ask the specialists questions. Each student also turns in two pages summarizing his/her arguments as a specialist the day of the presentation. The material provided by the professor for research includes information about cloning technology and about dinosaurs.

Learning Goals

This exercise brings together the past (dinosaurs) and the future (cloning). Students must consider:

Pelorosaurus commutes to work in this artist

This project will help students develop important skills:

Context for Use

This project would be great for an Age of the Dinosaurs class. It could also be used in a biotechnology or science ethics class, among others.

Teaching Materials

The student will be representing scientists on the "for" or "against" side of a debate on whether or not to clone dinosaurs.

There should be about four to six basic roles (depending on class size), with representatives for both sides.

Send the students to do some initial research in the first week of the project.

The students representing each side should meet and coordinate their arguments

The debate itself consists of each student group (all of the people representing one side in a small class or all of the people playing one role in a large class) getting up and presenting their material. Every role gets about five minutes and other students get to ask specialists questions.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Two weeks of preparation and a class period (1 hour) for presentations should be sufficient.


There are two graded components for this project:

References and Resources

This exercise is based on Soja and Huerta, 2001 .


Geoscience:Paleontology, Geology:Historical Geology

Resource Type

Activities:Classroom Activity, Activities, Lab Activity, Project

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Time/Earth History


Time/Earth History


Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Paleontology

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