Standard 4/Elementary/Benchmark 1
Benchmark Question: How do scientists acquire evidence
about the nature of ancient life?
Focus Question: How are Earth’s layers used to
determine the age of a fossil?
Begin by reading a biography
about Mary Anning.
Students will create a model
of fossil layers similar to the Earth’s. Each pair of students will use
approximately one-third of a can of play dough (all one color or three
separate colors) and two small items (twigs, leaves, bark, seeds, dead
insects, fruit rinds, chicken bones, small shells, or small plastic
insects) to make fossil layers in a paper cup. Guide students through the
following steps: Put one-third of the play dough in the bottom of the cup,
put a specimen on top of the play dough, cover it with another one-third of
the play dough and press, put the second specimen on top of this layer, and
cover with the remaining one-third of the play dough and press. Students
then will discuss which layers in the cup are the oldest and youngest.
Students will explain how this activity is similar to the idea that the age
of a fossil layer is determined by the order in which it was formed.