sidewalk fossil

Sidewalk Fossils                        

sidewalk fossil

Kenneth Fuller
(copyright information 2003)

Lab Activities

Simulating fossils: There are many plans for this type of activity.  They range from the most rudimentary to the very realistic and elaborate.  Summarized from many sources, here are some suggestions.  Each will need to be adjusted to suit the ability and level of the students as well as the available time and equipment.

1. Layer various grades of sand in a box, inserting "fossils" in some layers.  Have students record their findings as they carefully excavate.  This can be used to illustrate the principles of stratigraphy (oldest layers, and fossils, on the bottom and newer layers on top).

2.  Students press shells, etc. into wet plaster of Paris, or modeling clay, to demonstrate the formation of mold fossils.

3.  After making a mold (#2), cover the mold with a separating layer of  dry powder, or petroleum jelly.  Pour a layer of plaster of Paris on top.  When dry, the layers should separate giving you both mold and cast fossils.

4.  Persuade a small animal, such as a mouse, lizard, or whatever you might have in your lab, to walk across a smoothed layer of fine sand.  Pour plaster of Paris over the tracks.  When dry, the plaster can be separated from the sand to show a cast of the "fossil" tracks.

5.  Making epoxy mold "paper weights" with insects included can be used to illustrate the formation insect fossils embedded in amber.

6.  Using a stream table, demonstrate that floods deposit course layers (sand), between floods silt (mud) layers are deposited.  At the same time "fossils" can be dropped into some of the layers.


Field activities

Student projects

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