History of the Earth with Two Rivers Community School

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - 12:42am

Geology Department faculty recently partnered with Mr. Clint Byers (8th Grade science teacher at Two Rivers Community School) to develop and test a science outreach unit on The History of the Earth. The unit revolved around the Big Question: “How does anyone know what happened if nobody was there?” The learning cycle was developed by Marta Toran, Laura Mallard and Dr. Andy Heckert.

Ms Laura Mallard (Geology Department) visited the classroom for a lesson on fossils as evidence for events in the Earth’s history. Students looked at examples of fossils, discussed the type of evidence that can be inferred from them and learned about how they were formed. They then sifted through sediments from the Aurora phosphate mine, picking out fossils and identifying them using a key produced by the Aurora Fossil Museum. They were left with the challenge of making a fossil representing one of the six types of fossils based on method of formation (preserved, cast, mold, carbonization, pretrification and trace).

In the second lesson, Ms Marta Toran (Geology and Biology Depts) lead the students in an exploration of the evidence in ice cores. They learned about clues hidden in ice which provide evidence for climate change and other environmental events. Students analyzed the chemical composition of and the relative ages of ice core layers. They looked at graphs to determine the relationship between a rise in atmospheric temperature and carbon dioxide levels.

The unit culminated in a campus visit where students visited the McKinney Geology Teaching Museum. They also learned about the age of Earth’s rocks with Dr. Andy Heckert, who lead a simulation of the geologic time scale and discussed evidence in rocks and tectonic plates. He also introduced students to his recent fossil finds. The visit ended with an activity on evidence in cool cores, which was based on Dr.Ellen Cowan’s research in Antarctica and prepared with her help.

This was an awesome group to work with an everyone involved enjoyed the experience of learning about the history of the Earth together. Thank you Mr. Byers and TRCS 8th Grade!

If you are interested in a similar program for your middle school group, please refer to the McKinney Teaching Museum page for more information.

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