Rock Cycle - Past Life (1A)
Post Lab 

  • Learning how to use museums
  • Using museums to find out more about dinosaurs.
  • dinosaur
  • museum
  • skeleton
  • paleontologist

Students read a book about fossils in museums


Museums are a wonderful resource for students of all ages. For those interested in dinosaurs, they are especially exciting. Where else can you experience the thrill of seeing, smelling, perhaps even touching a dinosaur skeleton that is tens or hundreds of millions of years old? There is no substitute for the sense of awe and connection with the past that you feel when standing at the foot of a Tyrannosaurus or Apatosaurus skeleton. 

We encourage you to organize a trip to your local natural history museum for this post lab. Keep in mind that colleges and universities may have their own paleontology museums or fossil displays that would be fun to visit. Fossils aren't only found in natural history museums!

If a field trip isn't possible, we suggest one of the following alternatives. In this Age of Technology, natural history museums come in two forms: actual and virtual. Most of us have visited an actual museum, but fewer are familiar with the "virtual museum." Virtual museums are electronic displays of museum exhibits and information on the Internet. They are produced by actual natural history museums and are available for viewing on computers connected to the Internet. A virtual museum field trip doesn't quite provide the excitement of a real museum excursion, but it's cheaper, quicker, and can be thrilling in its own way. If you have Internet access, we suggest you try this option. The electronic addresses of our favorite museum sites are listed below. You may visit these sites to view general dinosaur exhibits or to find out more information about a specific type of dinosaur.

  1. Read Digging Up Dinosaurs to your class.
  2. Have the class make a list on the board of the steps that paleontologists go through to bring dinosaur bones from being buried in the ground to being a museum display. A sample list is given below
    1. Discover bones in/on ground and/or in rocks.
    2. Excavate (dig up) bones and take them to a museum.
    3. Clean rock and dirt from bones.
    4. Glue any broken pieces of bone back together.
    5. Mount (make a skeleton from individual) bones using strong metal supports.
    6. Fill-in any missing bones with plaster or fiberglass casts
  3. Take the class on a field trip to your local natural history museum, or use the internet to visit one of the virtual museum sites listed below

    Royal Tyrell Museum (Canada): Dinosaur Hall  

  4. You may want to work with the class to make a list of facilities in your area that have dinosaur displays. This research will require a local telephone book and newspapers. Leave the finished list with name, address and phone number of each institution up in the classroom so that children and parents may make use of it.

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