Identifying Gatun shells with 1st Graders

The last week of school is a hectic time at every school. This week half of my students are on a special exam schedule, leaving me with some extra planning time during the day. When I learned that our 1st grade students had been learning about geology, I offered to come and speak to the about my experiences in Panama and share what I have learned about fossils. I brought my box of Gatun fossils from Panama, the vertebrae from California, 3D printed Megalodon teeth, and a power point of pictures to show them. The students were excited to learn about fossils and full of great questions like, “Where can you find fossils?” and “What does a bone look like when it’s still in the ground?” Armed with a class set of Common Gatun Fossil Guides, not totally confident with how the lesson would translate to 1st grade I started handing out shells for the students to identify. I was totally astounded at what thoughtful observations these students made. From noticing the small variations in pattern, to making observations about modern shells they have found on Florida beaches looking similar to Gatun fossils, these 7 years olds were amazing! The excitement that these young students brought to the lesson reminded me that our students will exceed our expectations when given the opportunity. Kids love fossils! Having the ability to share my GABI-RET experience with younger students brought a new wave of lesson ideas into my head. When I return to Panama in July, I will be bringing a new perspective to the fieldwork and cultural experiences I will have this summer.

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