In our expeditions around the internet, we have unearthed yet another interesting fact. October is International Dinosaur Month. Yes, really! The month of explorers and apples and Halloween happenings is also loaded with opportunities to ponder those prehistoric beasts. Wondering how to start your students off in their exploration? How about listening to a podcast with a paleontologist?
In one of The Walking Classroom’s Science Career Series podcasts, you can hear from Dr. Paul Brinkman. He is currently Head of the History of Science Research Lab and Curator of Special Collections at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The podcast with Dr. Brinkman is easily accessible via our website and on WalkKits in all three of The Walking Classroom’s program offerings:
• Program 4 – #93
• Program 5 – #99
• STEM – #50
This podcast is a perfect starting point from which to spring into your classroom study of all things prehistoric. In it, Dr. Brinkman talks about paleontology and shares his own study of past paleontologists, including his favorite, Elmer Riggs.
Want to learn more about paleontology? You and your students can delve deeper after listening with the help of some additional resources. A website that gives students an overview of paleontology, What is a Paleontologist? clarifies key terminology. It also explains the link between paleontologists and dinosaurs. There is even a quiz to test students’ knowledge!
While Dr. Brinkman mentions Elmer Riggs, who began working in the field in the late 19th century, there are a number of other notable paleontologists. You can have your students research famous paleontologists individually or in pairs and then report their findings to the class. As a wrap-up, create a class timeline! Students can add their paleontologist’s name, photograph, and three to five key facts or findings. A practice like this provides a visual summary of what students have learned through an activity.
While it may not be feasible to extend your study with an expedition of your own, you can always visit a museum (or even go on a dig!) virtually. Try getting to know the different dinosaurs through available videos in your own self-guided tour of the exhibit halls at The American Museum of Natural History.
For the budding explorer of science and nature, National Geographic is always a great resource, and Dinosaurs 101 is just one of their videos celebrating dinosaurs. Are your students really digging dinosaurs now?
And that’s not all! Beyond virtually browsing exhibit halls and digging for dinosaurs, you can also explore The American Museum of Natural History’s array of dinosaur-related activities. Flesh out a Dinosaur, Dinosaur Names Activity, and Grouping Dinosaurs look to be especially engaging!
Now that your students are totally enamored with dinosaurs, they may want to Adopt-a-Dinosaur. Have no fear! Their new family members will not be joining in on any classroom activity, but your students’ newfound knowledge of the prehistoric creatures will certainly add to the classroom experience after they research and share the interesting facts they’ve uncovered! It might be fun to create a follow-up activity like a trivia game or scavenger hunt to assess your students’ understanding. Once they are experts on a particular dinosaur, your students will likely be able to create some clever questions for you!
Plenty of additional resources to extend your study of dinosaurs are easily available, or you can do some digging of your own. Note: Although we may have come in on the tail end of this year’s Earth Science Week (October 9 through 15), and missed National Fossil Day (October 12), it’s never too early to start planning for next year!