Author:
Carrie Robledo, SHANDA EDWARDS
Subject:
Mathematics, Science, STEM
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Level:
Upper Primary
Tags:
  • Fossils
  • Fourth Grade Social Studies
  • NC Engineers
  • Science
  • Stem
  • k5engineers
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    The BIG Dig…Fossil Excavation Challenge!

    The BIG Dig…Fossil Excavation Challenge!

    Overview

    Learners will become paleontologists for a day/week. They will discover this career and undertake the challenge of designing a fossil excavator structure to remove newly discovered fossils stuck in a cave crevice. As a class, graph the results on the amount of weight each structure could lift without breaking

    Instructor Directions

     

    The BIG Dig…Fossil Excavation Challenge!

    Shanda Edwards

    Edgecombe County Public Schools

     

    Driving Question / ScenarioYou are a paleontologist working at Wind Cave National Park (U.S. National Park Service) in South Dakota and your team has discovered some new fossils, but there is a problem.  The fossils are stuck in a cave crevice that is pretty narrow.  Your job is to design a Fossil Excavator Structure that is no more than 6 inches wide and 1 foot tall.  Your structure needs to hold as many fossils (weights/washers) as possible, so that the fossils can be lifted out of the crevice in the air 3 feet high.
    Project SummaryLearners will become paleontologists for a day/week. They will discover this career and undertake the challenge of designing a fossil excavator structure to remove newly discovered fossils stuck in a cave crevice. As a class, graph the results on the amount of weight each structure could lift without breaking.
    Estimated Time90-100 minutes
    Materials / ResourcesStudent EDP Planning Sheet (Fossil Excavation Challenge)RulersYardsticksSmall weights/washersOptional Supplies for the Fossil Excavator Structure:Popsicle sticks, String or yarn, Pipe cleaners, Skewers, Straws, Cups- variety of sizes, Glue/Tape, Dowel rods, Cardboard
    Grade4th
    Subject(s)Science, Math, STEM
    Educational Standards4.E.2 Understand the use of fossils and changes in the surface of the earth as evidence of the history of the Earth and its changing life forms.NC.4.MD.1 Know relative sizes of measurement units. Solve problems involving metric measurement
    Classifying Objective4.E.2.2 Infer ideas about Earth’s early environments from fossils of plants and animals that lived long ago.Students know that fossils provide information about the environmental conditions that existed when the fossil organism was alive, as well as information about where, when and how, the organism lived.Explain the relationship between yards, feet, and inches.
    EngageThe teacher will select 1-2 suggested engage activities from the Teacher Resource document.
    Project Outline
    AskComplete the Ask on the Student EDP Planning Sheet (5 minutes)Teacher post and remind learners of the Constraints:Structure can be no wider than 6 inchesStructure can be no taller than 1 footStructure needs to hold as many weights/washers as possible without breaking.Structure will be lifted 3 feet high
    ImagineComplete the Imagine on the Student EDP Planning SheetBrainstorm (2 minutes).Sketch 2 Designs for the Fossil Excavator Structure (5-10 minutes)
    PlanComplete the Plan on the Student EDP Planning Sheet (5 minutes)
    CreateBuild the Fossil Excavator Structure (20-30 minutes).Complete the Create on the Student EDP Planning Sheet (5 minutes)
    ImproveStudents test their structures using small weights/washers.Graph results on the weight the structure could lift without breaking.Complete the Improve on the Student EDP Planning Sheet (5 minutes)If time permits, students brainstorm revision and rebuild their structure.
    Closure / Student ReflectionsStudents reflect individually and then share out. (10 minutes)Explain your solution and why you designed it the way you did.Share how you used the Engineering Design Process.How do you plan to ask for feedback on the structure and answer questions others have about your solution.
    Possible Modifications / ExtensionsThis lesson can be done as an individual or team.Arrange a field trip to a natural history museum so students can see examples of fossils.Have students research what a paleontologist does and give a presentation titled "A Day in the Life of a Paleontologist."