May 04, 2016 at 1:52 PM
Discovery is the ultimate goal and at the heart of every scientific undertaking. Can an atom be split? What causes gravity? How did life on Earth develop? What is the relationship between speed, time and distance? One of the most innate, historic and accessible processes of discovery is palaeontology – the search for and study of fossils of creatures that roamed the Earth thousands of years ago. The Year 4 and 5 classes at the Girls’ School have been discovering for themselves what palaeontologists do and what palaeontology has uncovered to reveal the Earth’s history. A simulation “site of scientific interest” was created in the school sandpit and the students charged with taking part in the “dinosaur dig” to look for evidence. The girls familiarised themselves with the tools required to extract fossils, the methodical process of digging for and cleaning samples, then grouped and fitted them together.
Back in the classroom, the junior palaeontologists discovered the other side of the discipline – applying what they have found to know more about the Earth’s past. They investigated one species of dinosaur, the era it lived in, and its features, habitat, behaviour and food. The girls then had to find and identify their dinosaur during a trip to Butterfly Creek. The Dinosaur Kingdom at Butterfly Creek features life-size replicas of more than 40 species, from Allosaurus to Velociraptor. Moving among the enormous herbivores and fierce carnivores provided an opportunity to encounter the prehistoric creatures they had been studying. Some of the exhibits are animatronic which gave an insight into how the dinosaurs moved and the sounds they made! The girls’ knowledge was also boosted by a tour and presentation by one of the park’s guides, Paul. He explained further the various processes of fossilisation and showed the girls a real-life example of fossilised dinosaur droppings.
The Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) experience was a great way to conclude the palaeontology unit and “fossilise” what the girls had unearthed in class and through their own inquiry. The combination of field work and research definitely piqued the girls’ desire to make more discoveries in the future!
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