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Geologic Time Teaching Resources

Geologic time is one of the last topics I cover in my biology class. We discuss it briefly throughout the year when we learn about ecological succession and evolution, but we don’t take a deeper dive until the end of the  year. I absolutely LOVE any excuse to get out my fossil collection!

​Here is a roundup of helpful resources you can use during your geologic time unit:

1. DINOSAUR QUARRY INVESTIGATION: Students LOVE learning about dinosaur fossils, and this virtual investigation from the Natural History Museum of Utah is sure to be a hit. Students explore a real dinosaur quarry and work through a series of investigations that will meet a TON of your learning targets. Even better is the fact that all the investigations help students practice forming evidence based conclusions (a skill they really need to work on!)The three investigations include:
a) What dinosaur did these bones come from? Students meet a paleontologist, explore mystery fossils, and determine the species they came from. Perfect for earth science teachers.
b) What happened at Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur quarry? In this portion of the investigation students will see how disruptions in an ecosystem cause shifts in a population. This particular investigation really makes students think critically and is a great place to throw in some CER (claim, evidence, and reasoning) practice.
c) What physical features helped a dinosaur survive? This investigation is a great tie-in with your evolution and adaptation unit. Student will build a dinosaur and determine which physical features help (or inhibit) the dinosaur’s survival.

All of the investigations from Research Quest are completely free! You will need to create a teacher login, students will not- you just share a code with them. It is super user friendly and many portions are self-grading.


2. TIMELINE PREDICTIONS: You can begin the unit with this free timeline activity. Have students make predictions on the order organisms appeared in the past and during what era. Students tend to guess things came way before they actually did. It’s a great discussion starter!

3. VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP: Have students take a virtual field trip to the Smithsonian’s “deep time” exhibit. Super fun!

4. VIDEO CLIP: This Youtube clip scales Earth’s history down into the size of a football field to put things in perspective for students. 


5. INTERACTIVE DIAGRAM: If you are looking for more digital resources, check out this geologic time interactive diagram. Students will learn about events in Earth’s history and what caused major mass extinctions. The activity also comes with a self-grading Google form quiz.

6. ADDING MACHINE TAPE TIMELINE: Check out this activity from SERC where students create an adding machine tape timeline. (Don’t have adding machine tape? Grab some sidewalk chalk from the dollar store and have students create it outside!)
7. HALF LIFE DEMO: This activity uses pennies to show students the concept of half life, which they need to understand in order to learn the age of fossils. Tip: While this website uses pennies, I’ve also used puzzle pieces. Head to a thrift store and pick up a 1000 piece puzzle for a few dollars. If you divide them into bags of 100 you have 10 sets ready to go!)
8. VIRTUAL GEOLOGIC TIMELINE: University of Utah has a virtual timeline students can scroll through. They will realize how far they have to scroll to get past precambrian time!
I hope you enjoy these activities!
​Rock on,

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Hi, I'm Becca!

I help busy science teachers get your prep back by providing you time saving lessons, labs, and resources.

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