Digging Into Science Photo Gallery

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 Phase 1 - Excavation

During this paleontology project, my 7th grade students excavated six sites looking for the remains of an "ancient" critter. Each site was constructed with 2x4 lumber and plywood, then sealed the interior with silicone sealer. I painted the site boxes and marked the tops with coordinates (A-K & 1-12) for the site maps. Guide strings were also attached to separate the four quadrants. The bones were buried in a homemade sandstone mixture created by combining 2 parts sand with 1 part sand mortar mix. The sites were allowed 3-4 days to dry before excavation began.

It took 4 days of rock-crushing power to clear each site of approximately 3 buckets of dirt and as many as 90 bones. All the material scooped from the site was sifted through the strainer to find little fragments. All finds were tagged and recorded in the unit binder (daily journal and site map). Since several teams (from different classes) worked at the same site, detailing the finds and sharing ideas in the Daily Journal helped communication. The data was also used to aid in reconstruction and completing the dig analysis.


Phase 2 - Reconstruction

Once the excavation was completed, dig teams focused on reconstructing the critter. Teams used skeletal diagrams in their unit binders to help identify basic bones and attempted to piece together the rest of the skeleton. The use of a digital camera aided communication between teams. Team members also used the Daily Journal to record their ideas to share with other teams at their site.

Students were also challenged to use the data from their dig to recreate the scene of the "crime" - how the critter died! In addition, the Final Analysis required students to provide basic details about the critter related to size, weight, and habitat.

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Also visit the Lesson Plan page for a list of links to online lessons for Earth Science!


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The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm
8th Grade Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL

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