A "Role Play" Activity

This page was written by Erin Klauk as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education


Paleontology is an excellent hook for educators to use to teach science, as we all grew up in awe of the giant dinosaurs, or have had our curiosity awakened by the fossils we found while wondering the beach.


We will use a "role-play" approach to explore paleontology ethics. Students will be divided into three groups representing 1) Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 2) a landowner, and 3) a commercial bone collector. This is a fairly common triad who come up against paleontology ethic issues. Each group will take a day to research and find information, beginning with this website, about paleontology ethics. After students have enough information to address paleontology ethics, each group will decide on the essential evidence that informs their point of view. Each group will then report out this information to the class during the "town meeting". Finally, the class period ends with a general discussion about the overall issue of paleontology ethics.

For further information about teaching with the Role Playing Technique, see the Starting Point collection.