Translate this page

Lesson Ideas

Teaching Activities on Paleoscience & Fossils

This collection highlights teaching activities, hands-on lessons, and online simulations we found on the web that can help students learn about paleoscience and fossils. They are created by science educators and partner education organizations. Just as all our content is free, we only recommend external resources that are free for teachers.

1. US National Park Service Educational Activities

The US National Park Service was founded in 1916 to steward the national parks of the United States of America. Its Fossils & Paleontology division focuses on the geologic heritage found and preserved in the parks system. In their collection of educational activities, students can learn about how fossils forms, fossils found in specific parks, geology and how it relates to fossilization, and how to make your own fossils. Each activity was developed by education specialists in the National Park Service, fossil sites, or museums across the country.

  • Collection: link
  • Topic: fossils
  • Level: elementary school, middle school

Image from US National Park Service

2. On The Cutting Edge Collection

On The Cutting Edge began as a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded professional development program focused on undergraduate geoscience education in 2002. By 2019 the resources developed were transitioned to the purview of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT). On The Cutting Edge is currently web-hosted by the Science Education Research Center (SERC) at Carleton College. In this collection, students will learn about radiometric dating, geologic layers, how to identify fossils and measure fossilized bones.

  • Collection: link
  • Topic: paleontology
  • Level: high school

Image from On The Cutting Edge

3. UC Berkeley: Learning from the Fossil Record

Learning from the Fossil Record (FosRec) was developed and hosted by the UC Museum of Paleontology at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1996-2000, led by then-Director Judy Scotchmoor. FosRec curates activities developed by teachers, professors, and scientists, all of whom have a passion for paleontology and a commitment to science education to align with the National Science Education Standards (NSES). In this collection, students will learn about rock dating, relative dating, animal adaptations, and fossilization.

  • Collection: link
  • Topic: paleontology
  • Level: middle school, high school

Image from UC Museum of Paleontology

4. JOIDES Resolution Classroom Activities

The JOIDES Resolution (JR) is a seagoing research vessel that has gathered scientific data from ocean drilling since 1985. It is currently operated by Texas A&M University with funding from the National Science Foundation and owned by a subsidiary of Siem Offshore AS, a Norwegian offshore oil and gas corporation. This database of activities was developed from research gathered from the JR’s voyages (and other vessels). In it, teachers will find lessons connected to climate change, plate tectonics, and microbiology.

  • Collection: link
  • Topic: sediment cores
  • Level: all

Image from IODP/JOIDES Resolution

5. Fossils, Facts & Finds’ Hands-on activity

The website Fossils, Facts & Finds was created by California-based educators Doug and Claudia Mann. In this lesson plan, students will be able to make their own fossils.

  • Lesson plan: link
  • Topic: fossils
  • Level: elementary, middle school

Image from Fossils, Facts & Finds

That’s Not All!

Check out our collections of adapted research articles on paleoscience and paleogenetics.

Fossils used to map DNA across the globe

Title image by Nataliya Shestakova on Wikipedia

Share this Lesson Idea

Check out this Related lesson idea

Latest Scientific Articles

We want to hear from you!

If you are a teacher and you used some of our resources in class, we want your feedback! Please fill out this Teacher Feedback survey!

Journal funding support from:

Recommended by: