Wahiba Mouhandiz November 17, 2020 Math Worksheets
Dinosaurs Helping Pupils to Explore Science
One of the great things about paleontology is that it is a very accessible science field. When looking for the Highs-Boson particle a Large Hadrian Collider is required. For teachers wanting to introduce chemistry subjects as part of the curriculum access to a laboratory is usually needed. With paleontology going for a walk in an area where fossils can be found and turning a few rocks over might lead to a discovery that changes the way that scientists view the world.
Children Fascinated by Fossils
Many children are intrigued by fossils, indeed, even pupils as young as five or six years of age may have had the chance to acquire some fossils of their own after a holiday to the seaside. A child's fascination with fossils and in particular dinosaurs can help teachers to introduce some scientific principles into school lessons. With a significant proportion of the curriculum related to key science themes, a resourceful teacher, using a little bit of imagination and applying some creative thinking can develop a number of lesson plans exploring the Dinosauria using simple scientific methods and procedures. For the children, they can explore a subject that many of them find fascinating as well as learning about how important it is to observe, measure and record. Creating a scheme of work around exploring dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals can help teachers and teaching assistants explore a number of science topics as well as helping to support other teaching objectives such as developing children's mathematical abilities, creative writing skills and their sense of the world around them.
An Example of a Science Theme Applied in a School
Pupils at a school were given the opportunity to take part in some real paleontology when they were invited to try to work out what a set of dinosaur tracks made many years ago might reveal about the behaviour of prehistoric animals. The pupils were aged nine to ten years of age and had already covered a number of science subjects such as photosynthesis and food chains within the classroom. Here was an opportunity to study a real paleontology puzzle, one that had intrigued scientists.
Developing a Creative Curriculum for Schools
Dinosaurs as a term topic can be help provide students with challenging assignments and the teachers and teaching assistants at the Primary School certainly came up with a number of creative and imaginative lesson plans for the pupils to enjoy.
In this particular lesson, involving year 5/6 students at the school, a series of pictures and drawings were shown to the class. These illustrate a strange set of dinosaur tracks that were made next to a drying up lake by a dinosaur that lived during the Early Jurassic geological period.
The children were given a set of structured assignments to accomplish, using a worksheet and the scientific illustrations they were tasked with interpreting the fossil evidence and just like a real scientist, they had to come up with a theory to explain the strange foot prints and marks that had been preserved.
Involving Pupils with Practical Illustrations of Paleontology
The pupils had to work out the direction of travel and why scientists include scale bars when presenting scientific information. To conclude this exercise the children had to try to come up with a theory that might explain the strange tracks and markings preserved in the fossilized mud. Just like a real paleontologist they had to evaluate the evidence and come with their own hypothesis as to what might have happened. This lesson helped the children practice measuring objects and using simple mathematical formulae as well as introducing them to the scientific principle of evaluating evidence and developing a hypothesis.
Just like in real paleontology, there were lots of different theories put forward. Some of the children's ideas were very well thought out and showed a good grasp of scientific principles. For example, one girl thought that more than one dinosaur had walked over the ground a second pupil suggested that a hunting dinosaur may have dropped its catch and this had been preserved in the dinosaur tracks. Other theories proposed that the shore of the lake may have been slippy and the dinosaur may have fallen over. One young boy suggested that the tracks and strange marks preserved as fossils may show where a mother dinosaur dropped its baby whilst carrying it along the side of the lake.
The pupils came up with a number of fascinating ideas, all or which could be relevant as since no scientists were around 190 million years ago, it is difficult to say exactly what actually happened.
Comparing and Evaluating Evidence
The lesson plan encouraged debate and discussion as the children had the opportunity to substantiate their theories by explaining what conclusions they had made from their assessment of the evidence. The lesson was concluded by outlining the current theory proposed by the paleontologists who were actually studying the fossil tracks
The dinosaur expert's theory is that a large, bipedal dinosaur had been to the lake to have a drink, it must have been a hot day so it decided to cool off by sitting in the mud for a short while to rest. As the animal sat down it left its impression of its "hands" and bottom in the mud. The "hand-prints", as far as we at Everything Dinosaur know, are the first trace fossils of a meat-eating dinosaur's front limbs found to date. The resting position of the front limbs of this dinosaur can be calculated by looking at the fossilized marks in the mud-stone and this is helping paleontologists to understand more how the "hands" of dinosaurs worked.
Reinforcing Math and Science Skills in the Classroom
The pupils came up with a variety of explanations, as well as learning about how scale measures are used in scientific drawings and calculating the actual size of the tracks. All useful in helping to familiarize the students with aspects of mathematics such as scale drawings, simple calculations and accurate measuring objects.
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