Join an on-site dinosaur excavation and Paleo Training Course offered by Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in Bynum, MT, to incorporate real-life applications and experiences into a dinosaur and fossil based curriculum and spark student interest in science and scientific drawing.
As a result of this Fund For Teachers trip, I have grown both personally and professionally. I have expanded my knowledge of prehistoric life and the different processes that are involved in the preservation and preparation of fossils. I am now certified at the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center to work in the preparation lab and to work on fossil dig sites out in the field. I have a better knowledge and understanding of the intricacies that go into documenting the details of fossils in situ.
As a result of this fieldwork, I will be implementing some new things into my instructional practice. One of the things that I will now be able to incorporate is more hands on experiences for my students. I will also be able to have them connect with a paleontologist and other experts in the field. The labs for the students will be more similar to real life because I now know exactly how fossils are examined and collected in the field.
The greatest personal accomplishment of this fellowship was when I helped to uncover a well preserved fossil of a Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth at the dig site in Malta. The amazing part about this was that there has not been evidence of T-Rex in that area up until our discovery. The tooth was also discovered right before a tail vertebra was discovered that had a large bite mark in it, making our dig site the scene of a T-Rex preying on the Edmontosaurus.
My students will benefit from my experience because they now have access to talk to a Paleontologist and access to authentic fossil samples and geologic samples. I am better able to hold discussions about fossils and preservation of fossils and organic material in the classroom. I can also better discuss with them why geology is important and the different geologic processes. The students will be able to see the real artifacts from the field and have deep conversations about climate change.
I am currently working collaboratively with the middle school science teacher and teachers in the elementary grades in order for kids to have access to real artifacts, fossils and rock samples. I plan on connecting my colleagues with my expert contacts in the field. This way, through my contacts I have made over the summer, each classroom will be able to Skype live fossils sites to see how what they are learning about is used in real life and explore different career possibilities.
I was thinking of planning a family science night where students could prepare tables that explain different areas of science. Students could showcase their learning by making displays or video presentations and use those to help educate families and spark interest for some of the younger kids in the field of science. I would emphasize the fields of geology and paleontology and have the artifacts on display.
Utah is a common place for fossils and fossil preservation. It is also a place that is prone to commercial fossil excavation sites and stealing of fossils for private sale. I think that if I can educate my students on these issues, we could come up with an educational program to help educate other school aged children about these topics. Because of this we would be able to make a difference in helping people learn about the problem and hopefully slow down the issue.
I believe that this fellowship has fundamentally changed how I will connect my students to fields of science. I have always wanted to be hands on, but now I know better ways to do it. I have made connections with experts that can talk to the students. I now know that if I can bring the excitement that I experienced to my students, they can then look for that passion in their life that will be the driving force of their education and push them to go and do something in a profession they love.