VIrtual Lab-Fossil Dating

Contributor
Worksheet: Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County Schools Website: Glencoe
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Model , Simulation , Interactive Simulation , Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity , Data
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This activity consists of 2 parts created by different entities. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools created a superior worksheet that goes with the Glencoe Publisher online simulation: How can fossil and rock data determine when an organism lived?  The simulation has instructions on the left side of the screen with a bar that can be scrolled forward as you proceed. The actual simulation looks like a scientist at work in the field at several “dig sites” 1-3. The icons are interactive at the bottom of the page: a nail with a tag and a magnifying glass, the computer, a chisel and a specimen collection box. The dig site number is displayed at the top so students can keep track of which site they are using. The worksheet provides the background, procedure and data tables from each dig site organized in a way that the data can be easily transferred and analyzed.

 

Intended Audience

Learner
Educational Level
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-ESS2-3 Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, contintental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.

Clarification Statement: Examples of data include similarities of rock and fossil types on different continents, the shapes of the continents (including continental shelves), and the locations of ocean structures (such as ridges, fracture zones, and trenches).

Assessment Boundary: Paleomagnetic anomalies in oceanic and continental crust are not assessed.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In the dig site simulation the students start immediately interpreting data and finding evidence on the distribution of fossils and rocks. The worksheet has labeled data tables used to organize and interpret the findings of the dig site simulation. This activity does not address any continental shapes, seafloor structures or plate motions. Only the distribution of fossils and rocks, the age of rock layers and the Law of Superposition are addressed in this activity.In addition to the simulation activity, to meet this part of the performance expectation I would have the students complete a kinesthetic lesson related what they have learned about the ages of the rocks and fossils, but adding in plate motions. In this activity students are given a map with a view of the Earth as a whole including the seafloor structures. A model of the continental plates can be made out of foam pieces or laminated paper and the students can use what they know about fossils and the ages of rocks to piece together Pangaea and show what the Earth’s continents look like today. Students will create a model and explain it to their peers with their moveable continental plates. http://www.earthlearningidea.com/PDF/85_Continental_jigsaw_puzzle.pdf

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Using the data collected from each virtual dig site, students will analyze and predict ages of rock layers and come to their own conclusions about the Law of Superposition.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The disciplinary core idea is illustrated by a simulation of a fossil dig and the fossils found in each site correlated to an age of the substrate this activity is clearly an investigation of rocks and fossils.This activity does not address any water patterns in each of the simulated dig sites and the ancient land would relate loosely to the layers in the simulated dig site. Only the age of the rock layers and the Law of Superposition are addressed in this activity. After this simulation have the students complete a lesson related what they have learned about the ages of the rocks and fossils, but adding in plate motions.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The Data tables on the worksheet are a nice way to organize the fossils VS time period. The data shows a numerical relationship to the age of the rocks. Another numerical relationship is having the students use a method called radiometric dating to calculate the absolute age of the rock.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This activity provides opportunities for students to use three-dimensional learning to understand phenomena. This activity addresses part of the performance expectation, analyze and interpreting data on the distribution of fossils and rocks. Additional activities would need to be done to fully meet the performance expectation. The science and engineering practice, analyzing and interpreting data does fully incorporate quantitative analysis, correlation and causation. Using a method to calculate the absolute age of the rocks is a technique of data analysis as well as the correlations between the rock layers and the ages of the fossils.The crosscutting concept of patterns is a theme across all of the dimensions in this activity. Students will be looking for patterns in the distributions of fossils and rock, patterns in the ages of rocks.

  • Instructional Supports: The worksheet has definitions, the simulation procedures, organized data tables and questions that will help students keep track of where they are and to display the data in an easier format. A suggestion for differentiation would be for the students to work in groups and the data gathered from the activity, but analyzed in the class as a whole group.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The teacher will have to build in some checking for understanding during this activity as no assessments, rubrics or suggestions are provided for how to monitor student progress and understanding. Teachers should individually monitor the students as they go through this activity self –paced. As a suggestion for an assessment the questions or some of the questions at the end of the worksheet could be used as a final assessment. Another option could be that the students could write a concluding essay from the point of view of a geologist at an actual dig, what might they encounter, what data will they find to support the claim they have chosen.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The dig site simulation is self explanatory on the website as students move along at a self paced rate. The additional step- by- step procedures on the worksheet will help students navigate the simulation. However, it does require the use of FlashPlayer which is not available on some platforms.