EARTH IS A CLOCK
EARTH IS A CAMERA
This lesson has been designed to provide primary students with
an understanding that artifacts preserved by nature and humans are used
to become better in-formed about the history and potential future of the
planet Earth and its environment. Video and hands-on activities help students
internalize that all individuals in each generation are entrusted to protect
the planet and are responsible to future inhabitants for pre-serving it.
Video, interaction and manipulatives help students understand how human
activities affect their generation's quality of life and how current activities
impact future generations. The lesson assumes a holistic approach, is designed
as units which can be taught over several days and can serve as a catalyst
to reinforce skills taught in other subject areas.
NEWTON'S APPLE CLASSICS
- Mummies #101
- Dinosaurs #107
- Digging Up Dinosaurs #106
- Mummies Made in Egypt #509
Students will be able to:
- discuss the importance of documenting;
- list methods for learning about the past;
- explain how fossils reveal Earth's history; develop and test a theory;
- discuss how dinosaur bones and mummies have been preserved;
- explain the medical implications of studying mummies.
- 1 group photographs of class
- 1 chalkboard, chalk, eraser
- 1 picture of a pyramid
- 1 wall type world map
- 1 large apple with stem
- 1 paring knife
- 1 old photograph of ancestor(s)
- 1 old H.S. or college yearbook
- 1 flat rectangle sculpting clay
- 1 resealable plastic bag
- 1 item suitable for imprinting
NOTES: 1. Pre-produce and implement the following several days before you
introduce the lesson. Chronicle students involved in school activities through
non-posed photographs depicting a variety of usual and special activities
which have taken place. Photographs might include candid lunchroom settings,
playground activities, independent learning center work, role playing, etc.
2. This lesson plan includes suggested instructional sessions for teachers
who choose to extend the lesson beyond a single day.
Photographs taken of students on previous days should not be mentioned at
this time. Introduce the lesson by referring to one of the activities you
documented photo-graphically as you ask students to share any fact they
can recall about it. If needed, provide specific clues by asking, (e.g.)"What
was the lunch menu on this day? With whom were you sitting? What were you
wearing? What game did you play?" etc. Confirm only correct facts or
answers. After a reasonable opportunity has been given to recall specifics
ask, "How can I be so sure you recalled the specifics accurately or
incorrectly?" Allow an opportunity for students to remember you had
photographed the activities; then produce the photos to confirm your claims.
Ask, "What are other ways to document events or information for future
use that you know about?" Allow students to respond. (paintings, videos,
CDs, printed page, artifacts, photographs, etc.) Write the term future on
chalkboard. Ask, "What is meant when someone speaks of the future?"
Allow students to tell their conception of future. Ask, "Are there
things you can accurately predict about the future?" Lead discussion
toward an understanding that future refers to things existing or occurring
at a later time. Ask, "What future things can you predict?" (planned
events, holidays, seasons, days of the week, months, years, etc.) Ask, "What
things are you unable to predict twenty years into the future?" Allow
for interaction as students share examples (e.g.) who you will marry; how
many children you will have; what your income will be; etc. Discuss setting
goals and how this can influence (but not control) their futures.
Ask, "What is the opposite of future?" (past) "How do you
learn about the past?" Provide an opportunity for students to respond.
Discuss tangible sources of information about the past which are available
in your school as CD's or published encyclopedias, films, videos and the
photographs you took of the class. Ask, "Where in the community (outside
school) would you go to find information about the past?" (library,
museum, etc.) Allow students to share their knowledge and express opinions
by asking, "Is it of value for us to be knowledgeable of the past?"
Write archaeologist on the chalkboard. Discuss the term as a scientist who
searches for and studies remains or fossil relics and artifacts of past
human and other animal life and their activities. Say, "An archaeological
find could be thought of as a kind of picture preserved in the earth. It
is through archaeological finds that we know about animals and plants that
once lived on Earth." Ask, "What large animal do you know about
that is extinct but once roamed and dominated our planet?" Encourage
students to share what they know about dinosaurs. Write dinosaur on chalkboard.
Say, "Just as you have shared what you know about dinosaurs,
so do archaeologists. As they studied fossil remains buried deep in Earth's
crust, they learned about foods they ate, their skin and even other animals
they associated with. Based on their findings, today you will add to your
knowledge of dinosaurs as you learn about one that lived in a nest."
Tell students they will see a video of two scientists discussing ways fossils
of dinosaurs are studied. To give students a specific responsibility while
viewing say, "Watch the video and be prepared to describe how dinosaurs
looked and how they lived."
NEWTON'S APPLE CLASSICS
Begin tape with visual of Rob Long; audio is host asking, "Rob, how
do we begin to study a dinosaur?" PAUSE tape on visual of the
two men and a model of triceratops; audio is, "No-o-o." Allow
time for students to share what they learned as they describe how dinosaurs
looked and lived. Ask, "Was it a real dinosaur you saw on the video?"
(No; it was a model.) Briefly discuss model as you write term on the chalkboard.
Ask, "Why was a model used in the video instead of a real dinosaur?"
(Review and reinforce ex-tinct.) Write triceratops on chalkboard; divide
into syllables, tri-cer-a-tops, as students practice pronouncing the name.
Say, "Since triceratops is extinct, how do you suppose scientists decided
it looked like the video model?" Allow students to share their beliefs.
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch
the video to find out if what you believe is correct."
RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on visual of Mr. Long; audio is, "...often
we compare it to living reptiles." Allow time for students to discuss
whether their beliefs were accurate. Ask, "Which animals living on
Earth today are descendents of dino-saurs?" (reptiles) List on chalkboard
as students name examples of reptiles they know about. Say, "Whenever
fossil remains of an extinct animal are found, archaeologists take much
care to not damage or destroy them as they are carefully removed and studied
in great detail." Ask, "How could you make a comparison between
fossil remains and the photographs taken of the class?" Elicit discussion
relating to both as a type of picture which provided information about appearance,
skin (or clothing) and others they lived among and played with.
Give students a specific responsibility while viewing as you say, "Watch
the next video and be prepared to tell how scientists can learn so much
from studying the bones of an extinct animal." RESUME tape.
PAUSE tape on visual of the two men and tail vertebrae; audio is,
"Well, I'm glad they went about and changed it." Provide opportunity
for volunteers to ex-plain that scientists study bones and other fossil
remains, then compare them with animals which live on Earth today. Say,
"After much study and many comparisons scientists base decisions on
all the facts they have, then decide what the extinct animal probably looked
like." Write pro-bably looked like on the chalkboard. Ask, "What
does this phrase mean to you?" Encourage interaction among students
as you lead discussion to conclusion that scientists cannot prove an extinct
animal looked exactly like the model, however, it is their best guess based
upon all the scientific facts they have been able to gather.
Ask, "What was the mistake scientists made about one dinosaur as told
in the video?" (Skull bones of one dinosaur were found in the same
area among the fossil remains of another dinosaur.) Encourage students to
use their imaginations and ask, "What do you believe may have happened
that caused the skull of one dinosaur to be found near the skeleton of another?"
Accept all ex-planations without challenge. Encourage the class to decide
on the best explanation presented.
Say, "You already know that dinosaurs are classified as reptiles. How
are the offspring of most reptiles reproduced?" (hatch from an egg)
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch
the next video to find out if you are correct." RESUME tape.
STOP tape on visual of two men and the skeleton of a baby dinosaur;
audio is, "That is truly amazing." Allow students to discuss how
dinosaurs reproduced young. (fertilized eggs were laid and later hatched)
List on chalkboard as students name other animals that hatch from eggs.
Explain that scientists think some dinosaurs behaved much like birds when
caring for their young. They built nests, took turns in watching over the
baby dinosaurs and both parents brought food for them to eat. Say, "At
one time scientists thought most dinosaurs abandoned their babies after
the eggs hatched, however, as additional evidence was discovered, they recognized
the mistake and changed their beliefs about dinosaurs caring for their young."
Ask, "Why is it important for scientists or anyone else to admit they
were mistaken whenever new information proves they were wrong?" Encourage
students to consider the question from both a scientific and a personal
Say, "In the next video, you will visit a site where dinosaur bones
are being dug for future study." To give students a specific responsibility
while viewing say, "Watch and be prepared to explain how the bones
are being removed from the hillside."
Digging for Dinosaurs #106
Begin tape with visual of the host climbing a wall of bones; audio is the
sound of someone walking. PAUSE tape on visual of the host farther
up the wall of bones; audio is sound of a hammer. Allow students to describe
the exposed bones in the hillside and how they are being removed. Ask, "How
do you think the bones came to be in the hillside?" Accept all responses.
Encourage students to compare bones they saw in the hillside to those in
the previous videos.
Provide students an opportunity to predict the reason some bones are not
removed from the hillside. To give students a specific responsibility while
viewing say, "Watch the next video and decide if the reason you predicted
is correct." RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on close-up of the
guide's face; audio is, "... and then he would take it down into our
laboratory and work on it there in more detail." Give students an opportunity
to validate predictions that some bones were left un-disturbed in the hillside
so visitors could see "the picture" of dinosaur bones de-posited
in ancient times by nature.
Write theory on the chalkboard. Ask students to tell what a theory is. Direct
discussion to conclusion that a theory is a best guess or idea based on
a study of all available facts. Emphasize a theory is developed when the
actual reason for something is not known. Present the following scenario,
then instruct students to develop their own theory or best guess related
to what actually happened. Scenario: A classmate remembers placing lunch
money in the pocket of their jacket before leaving home for school; the
money is not there when it is time for lunch although the jacket is hanging
on the coat rack where it was placed earlier in the day. Encourage students
to develop a theory about the missing lunch money based on the limited information
they have been given. (e.g. the student re-members incorrectly and the money
was never placed inside the jacket; the money fell out of the pocket; someone
took the money) Accept all theories presented by students. Say, "Eventually,
the lunch money is found under a boot on the floor beneath the hanging jacket.
Based on the new information, do you need to change your theory?" Allow
students to adjust their theories. Emphasize the best theory is the money
accidentally fell from the pocket onto the floor. Ask, "If the student
remembered incorrectly, would the money have been found?" (no) "If
someone had intentionally taken the money, would it have been placed on
the floor?" (probably not)
Discuss how problems are always solved with the development of a theory.
Stress the importance for willingness to change a theory as new information
is discovered. This is important in the scientific world and in our personal
Say, "In the next video, you will hear how scientists developed a theory
about how the dinosaur bones came to be in the mountainside." To give
students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch and be
prepared to tell how the scientist's theory was developed by studying a
kind of picture left in the mountainside by nature." FAST FORWARD
tape to visual of three people in a laboratory looking at a fossil; audio
is, "Neat, but what I want to know is how did all those dinosaur bones
get here in the first place." STOP tape on visual of host and
the guide at the wall of bones; audio is, "I guess nobody ever took
a picture of one." Remind students the host is referring to a photograph
taken with a camera; the picture left by nature pro-vides much information
about dinosaurs that can be preserved even without a camera. Allow time
for students to tell how the scientist developed a theory by studying the
picture left by nature in the mountainside.
Provide each student with a flat, relatively thin rectangle of sculpting
clay contained in a sealable plastic bag in order to maintain moistness.
Say, "Use the sculpting clay to create an impression or picture in
the clay." Next, distribute to each student an object with recognizable
features suitable for imprinting. Say, "Use the object to create a
fossil-like imprint in the clay." Caution students to apply light pressure
as heavy pressure will cause the object to pass through the clay. (Suitable
objects for imprinting could include a button, a coin, a pine cone, a chicken
bone, a small twig, an unusual dried pasta; etc.) Assist as needed; have
students use a stylus or pencil to make initials for identification purposes.
Reserve an area for "fossils" to be laid out and allow them to
dry. After fossils have dried, a cloth stained with tempera or finger paint
can be rubbed over the imprint to highlight it. Upon completion, allow individuals
to showcase their fossil as classmates develop their own theories in an
attempt to accurately identify the object used to create the fossil picture.
Display the fossil pictures in the classroom for visitors to enjoy.
Ask, "In what way did the (artifacts) fossil pictures you created imitate
a process of nature?" Allow for interaction among students. Stress
that nature's method for preserving dinosaur bones was copied and used as
a model when they (students) created their own fossil pictures. Ask, "How
might your fossil pictures be considered an historical record?" Encourage
students to use their imaginations and look into the future when someone
examines their fossil picture and develops a theory about it. Provide an
opportunity for volunteers to role-play as they present a brief vignette
of how they envision this scene playing out.
Locate or have a volunteer locate Egypt on the world wall map. Ask, "What
do you know about the ancient history of Egypt?" Allow students to
share their knowledge. Display a picture of an Egyptian pyramid in view
of students; then ask, "Who will tell why the ancient Egyptians built
pyramids?" Confirm they were built as monuments and burial places for
royalty. Ask, "How have the pyramids proved valuable to understanding
how ancient Egyptians lived?" Accept all responses as students are
encouraged to share their knowledge about ancient Egypt. Say, "In ancient
Egypt physicians, chemists and persons responsible for preparing bodies
of the dead for burial, mimicked nature's process of preserving fossils
when they developed their own process of mummification." Write mummy
and mummification on chalk-board. Encourage students to discuss and tell
the difference between the terms.
Say, "You are going to see a video that explains what mummies are and
how bodies were prepared for mummification." To give students a specific
responsibility while viewing say, "Watch and be prepared to discuss
mummification as a natural process."
Mummies Made in Egypt #509
Begin tape on visual of book's cover; audio is narrator reading the title.
PAUSE tape immediately following description of mummification as
a natural process. Engage students in discussion as they interact cooperatively
while explaining mummification as a natural process. Say, "Because
ancient Egyptians believed they would need things used during their life
after their death, many articles were placed near the mummy in the burial
site." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say,
"Watch the video and be prepared to list articles that have been discovered
in the burial sites." RESUME tape. STOP tape following
descriptions of articles that have been found in burial sites, then provide
time for students to name and describe them as they are listed on the chalkboard.
Say, "Just as bones of dinosaurs and other fossils are studied to learn
more about ancient animal and plant life, scientists study mummies to learn
more about how people lived and health problems that may have caused death."
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch
the video and look for methods used by scientists to study mummies."
NEWTON'S APPLE CLASSICS
Begin tape on visual of the first guest; audio is, "I'd like to know
how scientists study them." PAUSE tape on visual of the two
men standing over the mummy; audio is, "I'd like to tell you what we
can see from superficial inspection alone." Allow students to describe
methods used by scientists to study mummies. Ask, "What type of information
was the scientist searching for as various methods were used to study the
preserved body?" (condition of health) Ask, "What is the value
today for learning about health problems of people who may have lived hundreds
of years ago?" Elicit discussion leading to conclusion that knowledge
of diseases in the past often leads to a better understanding of diseases
people have today and may help in discovering ways to treat or even cure
Explain scientists can often learn much through visual observation of the
mummy. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch
and be ready to discuss those parts of a mummy that can reveal valuable
information through a careful observation by scientists using nothing more
than their eyes." RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on visual of
the two men looking at the mummy; audio is, "I don't think so."
List the men's observations on chalkboard as they are identified by students.
Review the list as students are encouraged to tell why each observation
could be of importance. Reinforce, "The scientists are attempting to
learn more about how this person lived and what caused death. The only clues
they have are found on the body and from articles included in the burial
site." Ask students to recall why it was custom to include various
items in the burial site. (Egyptians believed in life after death. Items
left in the burial sites were believed to be needed in the new life they
Ask, "What technology do you know of that is used today to take pictures
inside a person's body?" Elicit x-ray. To give students a specific
responsibility while viewing say, "As you watch the next video, look
for other types of information acquired when x-rays are used to study the
mummy." RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on visual of guest; audio
is, "...or perhaps bone infections." Add to chalkboard list of
observations as new ones made using x-rays are identified by students.
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "As you
watch the next video, look for additional observations we can add to the
chalkboard list." FAST FORWARD to visual of the men observing
the mummy's teeth; audio is, "What happens if you see something?"
PAUSE tape on visual of guest holding an endoscope; audio is, "We
could advance it into the chest cavity." Have students list additional
observations as you add each to the chalkboard list. Inform the class that
the machine which looked like a giant donut was taking additional internal
pictures of the mummy's body.
Demonstrate using a large apple with an attached stem and a paring knife.
Use the knife and slice away the top section of the apple; be careful to
leave the stem intact. Display the slice showing hole in the center in one
hand and the remainder of the apple with the attached stem in the opposite
hand. After students have observed and described what the slice revealed,
continue from top to bottom and remove an additional verticle slice from
the apple. Encourage students to describe what is revealed about the interior
of each slice as it is removed. Continue the process having students observe,
then describe what they see after each slice is removed and as they internalize
the progressive pictures of the apple's interior region. Explain: "Although
the machine did not cut the mummy's body, it did take progressive pictures
which revealed interior sections of the body in a way similar to the pieces
of apple you described."
Write endoscope on chalkboard; explain it as a long tube with an attached
camera. Say, "As the tube was inserted into the mummy's body, the endoscope
provided pictures of the interior." Add this technique to the chalkboard
list of ob-servation methods. Bring the introduction and development of
new concepts to closure as you FAST FORWARD and begin tape on visual
of both men standing over the body of the mummy; audio is, "Well, what
could you tell?" STOP tape on visual of host gesticulating;
audio is, "It was my pleasure." Review the chalkboard list of
techniques used for observation.
Display and instruct students to carefully observe an old photograph
of ancestors. Encourage discussion of observations leading to conclusion
that old photographs are a kind of record made in the past. Emphasize that
old photographs provide important information about changes brought by time
and also provide clues to how things were during the period the photograph
Share an old high school or college yearbook with the students. Encourage
students to compare hair styles, clothing, eye glasses, etc., with their
modern counterparts. Use student comparisons to reinforce the objective
that over time our environment, the things we recognize as modern and even
ourselves undergo great change. Encourage students to describe things they
have seen change in their lifetime.
Communicate with the Director of a local or nearby museum; request
assistance from a staff person knowledgeable about archaeological displays
they have, then plan a field trip. Establish an objective with students
to become better informed about the historic significance of the area/state
in which they reside.
Ask a parent or guardian to assist in identifying an old abandoned property
in your community suitable for primary students to conduct an archaeological
dig. Request permission of the owner for your class to visit the property
for the in-tended purpose. Establish rules and pro-cedures to be followed
with your class, then arrange a field trip and implement the plan. Use any
artifacts found to develop theories about how the property was used in the
Provide an empty photo album and assign volunteers to organize and place
the class photographs in the album. Have students develop an appropriate
caption and include it for each photo. Display the album for the enjoyment
of students and visitors to the classroom.
Have students design a sarcophagus or statue of themselves patterned after
the rich designs and materials used to honor Egyptian mummies. The project
could be as simple as a drawing or as elaborate as a paper mache' headpiece.
Use the designs to create a display titled Hall of the Nobility.
Conduct a study of rebuses as a parallel to hieroglyphics. Provide appropriate
materials and have students design a rebus which describes their life and
interests. Allow students to design a bulletin board for displaying the
Plan with students to design and develop a class time capsule to be stored
and sealed. The seal should not be broken prior to a pre-determined date
near the end of the students' last year in your building. Discuss appropriate
items for the capsule, then collect and place those approved through student
consensus inside. Note the date decided for opening the capsule. Ask cooperation
of the school's administrator and other appropriate teachers. On the appropriate
future date, assemble students who were members of the "old class;"
then, open the capsule. Allow students to examine the items and reflect
on changes that have taken place since the time capsule was sealed.
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