7. Fossil Adventure - Assessment


  1. As homework, I had my students share their book with someone else that didn’t take my class: a parent, sibling, or friend. They had to read the story to this person until he or she discovered the path to making a fossil and discovery by a scientist. My students also had to answer any questions their “someone else” had about fossils.
  2. Have students create a flow chart describing the process of permineralization.
  3. Have students put describing the steps in fossil formation in the correct order:

    ____    minerals in the ground water crystallize within the tiny crevices left behind as the muscle and bones decompose, slowly replacing the bones, teeth and claws with rock, turning the T rex into a fossil
    ____    a T rex dies near the edge of a river
    ____    T rex’s body gets covered in sediment and is protected from scavengers and from being destroyed by the weather
    ____    as millions of years pass, the layers of sedimentary rock that once surrounded the now fossilized T rex erode away
    ____    minerals in the ground water cement the sediment together to form sedimentary rock
    ____    a paleontologist discovers the fossils!

  4. Have students explain in a paragraph why most of the past life on Earth vanished without a trace.

Going Further

  1. Make your own fossils and have your students excavate them! Carol Mankiewicz and Carl V. Mendelson from Beloit College describe how to make trace fossils with plaster of paris and the footprints of a small classroom pet. Paul Belmas of Bannach Elementary describes how to make body fossils from chicken bones, sharks teeth, or other animal remains with plaster of paris and sand. Roger Evans creates a field trip experience with buried animal bones in an outdoor site.
  2. Study a specific fossil (or set of fossils) in detail, drawing connections to the geologic time scale and stratigraphy. One fantastic lesson of many is the in depth study of the Laetoli footprints with this lesson by Steve Randak. These footprints offer indisputable evidence that by 3.6 million years ago, our human ancestors were walking on 2 legs. Students can study these footprints to investigate the height, stride length and walking speed of our ancient ancestors.