Geosphere: Fossils, Time & Evolution

Core Sampling

Drilling is the only way to be sure that oil and gas fields exist and exactly what is present in the formation. Core samples reveal the physical and chemical nature of the rock. In this activity, you will create a model formation and “drill” for samples.

Fossil Formation

Have you ever seen a fossil? A fossil is any evidence of past life preserved in sediments or rocks. Do you think you could have dinosaur fossils in your family car’s gas tank? Did you ever hear that oil and natural gas are “fossil fuels”? Do you think oil and natural gas can be made from fossils? How long do you think it takes fossil fuel to form?

Geologic Age

This activity will have students collect data, graph it, and compare the information to what they already know about radioactive elements and dating the planet's age.

Geologic Time Scale Analogy

Unraveling time and the Earth's biologic history are arguably geology's most important contributions to humanity. Yet it is very difficult for humans to appreciate time beyond that of one or two generations, much less hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of years. Perhaps we can only hope that students catch glimpses of our rich geologic heritage, particularly when most of our teaching is done in a classroom and not in a field setting. This exercise begins to make time more "three dimensional" and most importantly, students gain a better appreciation for geologic time and our Earth's history.

Logs of Straw - Dendrocronology

Dendrochronologists use tree rings to go back in time to learn more about past climate. Using straws to recreate tree rings, you can learn how dendrochronologists work.

Magnets at the Core

Learn about the Earth's magnetic poles and paleomagnetism in this activity from Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

Mud Fossils

Learn about fossil preservation, paleontology, and stratigraphy in this detailed activity from the USGS.

Mystery Mollusc

Pretend to be a biologist as you 'discover' a new mollusc species and work to determine it's characteristics and habitat.

Rock Art in the National Parks

Human beings have been linked to earth materials since prehistoric times. They used caves for shelter, shaped rocks into stone implements, and later refined metals to make tools. Beyond practical purposes, Earth materials also were used to make pigments for paint. Rock walls became canvases where ancient artists expressed themselves. In this exercise, we will explore the link between Earth materials and art.

Tracking Dinosaurs

Paleontologists are the geoscientists who discover and study fossil evidence of past life. Sometimes they even find the footprints of dinosaurs that roamed the surface of the Earth long ago. Ever wonder how paleontologists are able to determine, based on fossil evidence, whether a particular dinosaur was walking or running when it left footprints behind? These two activities will help you to learn how these scientists can do that.
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