Fossils. Geology. Anthropology.
Nothing intrigues a middle school student like a good mystery.
Challenge your students to explore,discover and question as they probe the mysterious fossilized Laetoli trackway discovered by the famed anthropologist Mary Leaky.
I teach this mini unit within my Rocks and Minerals unit. The inquiry question posed is: What do rocks reveal about our past? Students soon discover that fossils in rocks contain tantalizing clues about Earth's past.
The outline of the unit is as follows:
Scope and Sequence
Day One Foldable detailing the formation of the Trackway. Students will create a foldable to tell the story of the formation and discovery of the Trackway. The outline of the story is provided.
Day Two Anthropology Formula to Find Height
Students will use a formula devised by anthropologist to determine their height. They will also measure their foot length.
Day Three Scatter Plot and Trackway Measurements. Students will graph the class data for height and foot length. They will then calculate the scale on the trackway. They will measure two footprints for two of the hominids and use the scatter plot to determine their height.
Day Four Scaled Drawing and Conclusion
Students will use a scale of 10 to 1 and draw themselves beside the two hominids. They will conclude with a written summary of what skills they have learned.
Extension Locomotion Lab
1. Miscellaneous Footprint Patterns
2. Background Research for the Laetoli Trackway
3. Foldable Information Outline
4. Anthropology Formula
5. Scatter Plot Data Table
6. Scatter Plot Coordinates
7. Footprint Measurements Outline
8. Scaled Drawing Coordinates
9. Costa Levels for Conclusions
10. Rubric for Assessment
Includes link to free on-line video clip and link to download copy of the trackway.
Students are engaged in this unit and the fact that there are no definitve answers to this amazing fossil record adds to the mystery.