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FPS second-graders do the dinosaur dig

The idea that some dinosaurs had feathers was a new one for many second-graders at Farragut Primary School, when two outreach teachers from the East Tennessee Discovery Center in Knoxville brought a dinosaur dig to their classrooms Tuesday, Jan. 11, and Wednesday, Jan.12.

The program, entitled “Dinosaurs: the Unfinished Puzzle,” was developed by outreach teacher Michelle Clark.

“We get the students as involved as we can, because they learn the most from being active — moving or roaring like a dinosaur or making an imprint from play dough,” Clark said. “It’s active learning.”

Outreach teacher Lori Major said it is one of the reasons they show the students a coprolite fossil.

“The students laugh and holler and think it’s hilarious when they find out it is fossilized dinosaur excrement. They literally belly laugh and think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard,” Major said.

Clark said they use coprolite to teach students about the type of fossil that develops when minerals and soil take the place of the original material over millions of years and create the same shape in rock.

Clark and Major teach about trackways by having one student, pretending to be the dinosaur, make both slow and fast footprints on a long piece of paper stretched out on the floor while wearing wet socks. The other students open their eyes and guess which tracks were which.

“This helps them learn how different dinosaurs moved,” Clark said.

One of the students’ favorite activities, Clark said, is dividing into groups and receiving a box with sand and a fossil inside.

“The students take turns carefully brushing the sand off the fossils or fossil replicas,” she said. “They get very involved in trying to identify the fossil and sharing it with the rest of the class. Some of the fossils are teeth, eggs and skin imprints. They learn this is what real paleontologists do.”

Clark said, “We encourage students to think like a detective; learning about dinosaurs is like learning about the greatest detective story of all time. Many of the mysteries of the earth’s past are still waiting to be put together.”

FPS second-grade teacher Mary Taylor said her students were very enthused and involved during the program.

“All boys and girls love dinosaurs,” she said. “They know their names, what kind of teeth they had, where they lived and what probably happened to them.”

Ben Dunn said his favorite activity was watching a cast being made out of a fossil tooth.

“It’s cool that our class gets to keep it,” Dunn said.


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