Last updated: February 16, 2017
Paleo Fossil Cookie Dig
- Grade Level:
- First Grade-Fifth Grade
- 1 hour
- Group Size:
- Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
OverviewIn this lesson, students will explore "fossils" by using chocolate chip cookies in an interactive fossil dig! Through creative problem-based learning that incorporates teamwork, students will work in collaborative groups to create an informational presentation about paleontology.
After completing this group project, the students will be able to relate to paleontologists while understanding the significance of paleontology.
1.) The students will identify and learn vocabulary relating to a fossil dig.
2.) The student will be able to describe the care which scientists must use
while excavating fossils.
3.) Through an investigative hands-on activity with real-life materials, the students will
actively demonstrate the process of digging in rocks for fossils.
4.) While working in collaborative groups to create an informational presentation, the
students will role-play the job of a paleontologist by describing the process and
tools necessary for digging up rocks and fossils.
BackgroundThis activity demonstrates the care which scientists have to use while extracting fossils in order to protect them from breakage. Many students have the concept of fossils as heavy dinosaur bones which do not need careful treatment. In reality, most fossils are delicate. Scientists often use tiny picks and small, soft brushes to expose the fossil and preserve it.
1 sack of chocolate chip cookies (hard or soft depending on the students' ages and skill level)
1 box round toothpicks
paper plates - one for each student
1.) The teacher will activate prior knowledge by asking students to share information about fossils. As students give this information, the teacher will display it on the white board or blackboard.
2.) Should the students require more information about the subject an informational DVD may be shown at this point.
3.) The teacher will introduce/review the vocabulary with the students.
4.) The teacher will ask the students to list in their notebooks some things they know about paleontologist. (Example: some of the tools used, places they dig, things they find, etc.)
5.) The teacher will allow the students to discuss their answers among their cooperative group members. (These groups should be mixed in ability according to strengths and weaknesses in the subject matter.) Amount of time needed for this step will depend on the knowledge base of the students.
6.) The teacher will explain that the students will now have a chance to become a "paleontologist for a day". The teacher will give each student two cookies, two toothpicks, a paper plate, and a paper towel. Instruct students not to put toothpicks into their mouths or play with them.
7.) Each student will take their "fossilized rock" and using a "fossil pick" (toothpick), students will pick the "fossils" (chocolate chips) out of their "rocks" (cookies).
8.) They are to remove the "fossils" carefully, count them, and place them on the paper towel. Then, they should ask you to check their work.
9.) When all students are finished, discuss as a class the process of finding the fossils in the activity. The chocolate chips that were picked out resemble true fossils and the indents that remain from the chips resemble molds. Were they able to remove the "fossils" without breaking the sediments surrounding it? Were the "fossils" in perfect shape? How careful did they need to work in order to successfully remove the "fossils"
Students will work in pairs or groups to create an informational presentation about paleontologists. The following four areas will be included in the presentation:
1.) What paleontologists do...
2.) Tools paleontologists use...
3.) Where paleontologists may dig...
4.) Things paleontologists may find...
The teacher can comment on these four criteria in a rubric or checklist created for their unique grouping or pairing in their particular classroom.
Make a class graph of the number of "fossils" in each "rock" sample. Does this cookie manufacturer claim to have a certain number of chocolate chips in each cookie? Discuss truthfulness in advertising. Write to the cookie manufacturer about your results. Suggest ways in which the manufacturer can improve the cookies.