Paper No. 26-5
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM
DIGGING INTO DINOSAUR BEHAVIOR: DEVELOPMENT OF AN INTERACTIVE AND FIELD-BASED DINOSAUR DIG SITE FOR K-12 EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
The evolving nature of education in K-12 curriculum demands that we, as scientists, continue to devise new strategies to engage and motivate the public, educators, and children to discover. Since its development in 2013, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been adopted by the state of Illinois. The NGSS place increasing emphasis on Earth Systems education relative to previous science standards. Units in NGSS such as Biological Evolution and Earth Systems are exemplified in the field of paleobiology. Recent studies have argued that children in grades K-2 can understand and complete activities relating to paleobiology, even though the NGSS do not introduce the topic until 3rd grade. Early education in grades K-3 incorporating paleobiology is crucial for building a scientific foundation for children exploring the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, environmental and earth systems science. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Geology and the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum have partnered to create a new “Dino Dig” interactive field-based exhibit targeted toward grades K-3. Constructed as three stratigraphic platforms, children will explore dinosaur behavior, geological time, preservation, bird evolution, Mesozoic climate, and the Cretaceous – Paleogene mass extinction. With the help of a field guide designed as a real paleontologist’s field book, children can dig for a variety of body and trace fossil replicas learning about Mesozoic ecology and evolution. Alongside the exhibit, quantitative learning activities for upper-level age groups can be used to investigate temporal changes in climate using plant fossils and dinosaur walking/running behavior. Further development of this project will involve a workshop with local K-12 teachers to develop this dig site as a “field experience” for both the students and teachers following NGSS.