Fossils and First Graders

Today we took two carloads of people and a whole bunch of fossil plants to Monroeton Elementary School in Reidsville, North Carolina, to teach Christa Winingham’s 1st grade class about fossil plants. This is the third program on fossils we’ve done this year at Monroeton (the first two were on Ordovician shells and Miocene shark teeth), as part of a program I’m working on with Brett and Christa to use paleontology to teach basic science concepts in lower elementary school.

For this exercise we put together kits of fossil plants from the Boxley Beckley Quarry, including a variety of lycopods, ferns, and cordaites. I was joined by Brett, Tim (who took all the photos), Roanoke College botanist DB Poli, artist Mike Adkins, recent Roanoke College graduate Laura Kellam (who is working with me on the Lake Waccamaw whale), and current Roanoke College student Will Bader.

We spent an hour with the students, who started by identifying their plant samples using pressed modern relatives as a guide:

Then they used the pressed lycopods to try to estimate how tall and how big around the fossil lycopods might have been:

Using specimens that have particularly good relief, they made rubbings of lycopods and horsetails:

And finally wrapped up with a review of the different parts of the plants they had seen:

Tomorrow, I’m following up with a Skype call from the collections room to the entire Monroeton 1st grade.

I’d like to thank Christa, Brett, Tim, DB, Mike, Laura, and Will for making this such a successful program, the Monroeton first graders for being such enthusiastic students!

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One Response to Fossils and First Graders

  1. DB says:

    We had a great time today and the class was so smart and willing to learn! Ihope they continue to explore with their magnifyers!!

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