"Paleontology: The Window to Science Education" Stucky, Richard K. (1996)

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"Paleontology: The Window to Science Education"
Richard K. Stucky (1996)

URL: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/fosrec/Stucky.html

SITE SUMMARY: This document, part of Learning from the Fossil Record, a hypertext book, was written for a workshop for K to 12 educators. It contains an introduction to paleontology, sets out the basic methods and goals of this science, and explains how to make paleontology relevant. The author, who studies mammal fossils and paleoecology, and was then the chief curator of the Denver Museum of Natural History, notes why and how paleontology is a good way to introduce young people to science.


  1. See paragraph two of the basic methods section. Identify what fossils are, then state two ways that fossils are discovered. In what particular manner are fossils usually found? Identify two things that a field paleontologist does, give details for the second, and tell why these things are important.
  2. See paragraphs one and three of the basic methods section. Identify the four basic techniques that are part of the preparation for the scientific study of fossils. State the five, and explain four, things that happen to fossils when they are brought to a laboratory.
  3. See paragraph two of the goals section. Identify paleontology's three basic goals, and give details of each. (Note: Notice the two subjects of goal three and give details of one of them.) Why is the understanding of shapes and forms important in paleontology? Choose and search one Web site that is cited in the Related Internet Sites section below. Find something you see as an example of shapes and forms with reference to what you answered for the question just above. Give details and explain your choice.
  4. See paragraph one of the Relevance section. Identify five reasons why paleontology is relevant in general; then why it is relevant in particular.
  5. This document's introduction suggests that "knowledge of fossils is reinforced in many aspects" in young people's lives, and reinforcement happens via the media and vacations to "some fossil Meccas." Visit the Web pages or sites referred to just below, then find and describe two interesting news items about a fossil discovery and a paleontologist's research. Next, choose and describe a fossil Mecca cited by Stucky or find and describe another one. Option: If possible, also visit a fossil mecca near you to gather data to supplement your description. (Tip: Visit the Web pages or sites on "Fossils and Ruins News," Fossil News: Journal of Amateur Paleontology, "Dino News," and "Top Paleontologists and Dinosaur Hunters of All Time" in Dinosaurs at the Zoom School; or magazine, newspaper, radio or TV news Web pages or sites such as The Journal of Dinosaur Paleontology, National Geographic Magazine Dinorama, New York Times on the Web [its Science area], Time.com—Newsfiles—Science, NPR—Science Friday, Discovery Channel News Roundup [its Dinosaurs area], also the "Bone Zone" in the Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette [whose urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below, or in this book's Appendix B]; or Amazing Dinosaur Scientists, Dinosaur Detectives, History of Paleontology, Dinosaur Paleontology—Historical Overview, "Dinosaur Resources" at the Internet School Library Media Center Web sites [whose urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section of this book's chapters featuring "Paleobiology—In the News, Highlights, Subjects, and Links" and "Paper Dinosaurs: A Hypertext Catalogue of Rare Documents"]. Search for descriptions and fossil meccas in the "Dino Trekking" area of the Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette Web site or the Paleontology: Big Dig and Great Fossil Regions Based on North America's Physiographic Provinces Web sites [whose urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below], or at the National Park Service—Nature and Science in the Park Web site [whose url is cited in this book's Appendix B].) (Hint: For a two-part definition of Mecca, search the Dictionary at http://www.infoplease.com.)
  6. Describe a real science that is depicted in a movie or TV program with dinosaurs, noting if it is presented realistically, either completely or partially, then think of and describe, or write a story for, what you would provide about dinosaurs for a movie, TV program, educational Web site or CD-Rom, either fictional but realistic or a documentary. (For help, see the Web sites "Dinosaur Links—Dinosaurs As Movie Stars," plus "Behind the Scenes—Jurassic Park" ["the movie where science and technology came together"], and "Jurassic Park 2: Science [and Non-Science] of the Lost World" Web site. Note also "How to Create a Dinosaur Report" in the Classroom Activities area of the Dinosaurs at the Zoom School Web site. [These Web sites' urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below, or in that section of this book's chapter featuring Foreword by Michael Crichton to the Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs.])
  7. See this document's Relevance section, especially the last sentence of paragraph one, and paragraph two. What are two things that, according to Stucky, paleontology can provide us with? In which three ways can paleontology help students, and how? Think beyond Stucky's document, but keep it in mind, then try to apply the basic parts of the answers you found to the questions just above to two scientific things in the world around you. Optional activity: What is a Rosetta Stone, and how does Stucky use this phrase? (Tip: For help with unusual words, search the online Dictionary cited in Question/Activity no. 5 above.)


"Fossils and Ruins News" in Science Daily


Click the links for "read brief news summaries" or "browse just news headlines," then choose a summary or headline link. Full documents or detailed adaptations are provided, with adapter noted, and sometimes links to more information, original sources, and related discussions.

Fossil News: Journal of Avocational Paleontology


Read about this journal's features, targeted readers, and its writers, then click the link to see a free copy of the November 21, 2001 issue permanently online in PDF format.

Journal of Dinosaur Paleontology


See links to articles under the topics Archaeopteryx, Ancient Birds, and Dinosaur—Bird Relationships; Dinosauria; Dromaeosaurids; Evolution; Fossilization; Impact Theories and Extinction Events; Legal Issues; Miscellaneous; News and New Discoveries; Oviraptorids; Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists; Stolen Fossil Alerts; and Tyrannosaurids.

National Geographic Dinorama


See the photo links to changing features on the topics Why Feathers?, A T. Rex Called Sue, History's Nursery, Moving Monsters, Desert Discovery, Dinosaur Eggs, and Early Birds? A search for dinosaurs at http://nationalgeographic.com brings a list of sites on fossil discoveries.

Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette: The Ultimate Online Dinosaur Magazine


Recommended by the National Education Association, this site has facts presented in interesting ways (sometimes by scientists). See links to Recent Features, Recent Headlines, Top Stories—This Week, DinoGuide (e.g., The Dino News Network, and Dino Feature Stories), columns such as Geologic Timeline pop-up, Ask Dr. Fred; Dino Time Machine, Celluloid Dinosaurs, Dino-Trekking (on places where fossils can be seen), and Book of the Week. At http://www.dinosaur.org, also see the links to The Bone Zone (on paleontologists), a list of documentaries in video format, and more dino links.

Dinosaurs at the Zoom School


This online book features links to All About Dinosaurs, Dino Info Pages, Dino Fact Sheets, a List of Dinos, Anatomy and Behavior, Classification, Extinction, Fossils, Geologic Time Charts, Mesozoic Era, Plants from the Time of the Dinosaurs, Dino News, Dino Dictionary, Top Paleontologists and Dinosaur Hunters of All Time, and Classroom Activities (e.g., "How to Create a Dinosaur Report").

Paleontology: Big Dig


At this area of the American Museum of Natural History Web site, see an url for a Web site that provides information on fossil collecting sites that can be found in the United States and Canada. Note also links to Keeping a Field Journal, Do's and Don'ts For Fossil Hunters, Fossils You May Find, and Paleontology Web sites.

Great Fossil Regions Based on North America's Physiographic Provinces


This Web site has information on the U.S. regions' fossil heritage, featuring indications of types of fossils and how rich or sparse each region is regarding fossils. Included are The East with the Coastal Plain and the Appalachians, The Interior with the Central Lowlands and the Great Plains, The West with the Rocky Mountains, the South West, the Far West, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Dinosaur Links—Dinosaurs as Movie Stars


See links to The BBC's "Walking with the Dinosaurs" Series home page, the "Walking with Dinosaurs: Science of Motion" Web site, and links to other Web sites about other TV programs or movies that feature dinosaurs.

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"Paleontology: The Window to Science Education" Stucky, Richard K. (1996)

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"Paleontology: The Window to Science Education" Stucky, Richard K. (1996)