These are follow-up activities to do with your students after visiting the Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries exhibition.
Writing about the exhibition
Ask students to write an article for the school newspaper that describes the exhibition. What would they emphasize, and why? What objects from the exhibition would they choose to illustrate those points?
What's the evidence?
Some of the new discoveries from the exhibition came about through the use of new technologies. Some can from the discovery of new fossils. And others came about through the use of new methods, like analyzing the behavior and mobility of modern animals and comparing that data with dinosaur fossils. Ask your students what new things they learned about dinosaurs from the exhibition. Make a list on the board. Ask students, How did these new discoveries come about?
Form follows function
Many of the dinosaurs in the exhibition had elaborate features like domed heads, horns, and frills. Ask your students which modern animals have features with similar functions. What animals have elaborate features that are used to attract mates? What animals have features that are used to fight other animals within their own species? What animals have features that are used for defense? For younger students, have your students design their own dinosaurs. Tell them first to write down the traits they would like their dinosaur to have. Then they should draw a sketch of their dinosaur on paper. Have them explain why their dinosaurs look the way they do.
T. rex: Built for speed?
Ask your students what they learned about T. rex from the exhibition. Based on the evidence presented, do they think that T. rex could run, or only walk? Have them explain their answers.
What can we learn from looking at dinosaur trackways? There's a lot we can't tell, like the size, color, and sex of the dinosaurs which made the tracks. One of the things that paleontologists can tell just from looking at a dinosaur track is whether the dinosaur was running or walking. Have your students try this activity to show the difference: Find a setting where you can see your footprints (sand, snow, or mud). First walk, then run over the same area. For each set of prints, measure your stride (the distance from toe to toe made by the same foot). What are the differences in your stride between your two sets of prints? Ask a friend who is taller or shorter to repeat the same activity. Compare and contrast your footprints.
Ask students to recall what they learned about the extinction of most dinosaurs. What different theories do scientists think caused this mass extinction 65 million years ago? Then, discuss the factors that are causing modern extinctions. Are they avoidable? What modern animals are endangered or have become extinct? Divide the class into groups and ask each group to research and report on an endangered animal. Direct your students to www.worldwildlife.org and www.amnh.org/
nationalcenter/Endangered for more information on endangered species.
Remaining mysteries about dinosaurs
What colors were dinosaurs? Have students give different arguments for different color schemes. Why are particular animals certain colors? (Why aren't there blue horses just as there are blue fish or blue birds? Why are penguins all black except for their white bellies?) What are some of the other unanswered questions about dinosaurs? Ask your students what they would like to know about dinosaurs that is still a mystery.