Day at the Museum

How are Windsor students using 21st-century learning techniques to explore the world of 500 million years ago? They’re starting by opening their own museums.

3rd graders are conducting scavenger hunts, sorting and classifying fossils to set up their museums. This is all in an effort to have the students answer the question, what story does a fossil tell?   
Three boys and one girl are standing, leaning over a table in a classroom. Two are reaching into a bin 

“We want to try to get them to come up with some ideas. We want to give them materials that allow them to analyze evidence and make an argument,” said Elementary Science teacher Deborah Kalivoda.

In other words?

“Think like a scientist,” said Kalivoda.

Before students added fossils to their museums they had to learn what they were and what their features said about their daily lives and climate. For example, the shape of an animal’s teeth can indicate whether that creature ate plants, meat or both. 

“This tells me about the ocean because it’s smooth,” said student Grady Leonard about the surface of an orthocereas, an extinct creature that crawled on the ocean floor.
A female teacher stands in the front of the classroom, pointing to a girl raising her hand 
“That’s the great, great, great, great grandfather of snails and slugs,” said student Regan Pangburn, pointing to a gastropod.

Fossils can not only tell us about the characteristics of an animal and its climate, but also how that has changed from thousands or millions of years ago to today.

“You could find ocean animal fossils in the desert. There was also a camel fossil found in Nebraska,” said student Shannon Lippa. 

Kalivoda is engaging the students in inquiry-based learning to get them to ask themselves questions to piece together the story a fossil can tell.

“We want them to create their own ideas,” said Kalivoda. “We want them to have a passion for science and discovery. We want them to know science is fun. 
A young boy looks down at a fossil card on the table with three other children in the background look into a bin on the table

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