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Mid-Devonian Fossils — A Trip to Elma, New York


This unit was developed to introduce students to fossil collecting in the field. For years I had shown my students fossils with a brief description about their origin and formation. Upon further questioning on one occasion I realized that they had no way of conceptionalizing the area in Western New York I was attempting to describe to them. Obviously Eastern, North Carolina and Western New York are pretty different in terms of topography and geology. Additionally, few or none of my students had ever had the opportunity to collect fossils from the field, a pleasure I have enjoyed for most of my life. So, I decided that the Kenan Fellowship would be a great opportunity to share.

Teachers of students of any age group could use this unit in a variety of ways for almost any science. The primary audience I had in mind was Middle to High school students in Earth Science or Biology, but the video clips and pictures could easily be used by anyone. Teachers could simply show the video clips to augment what they’re already doing in class for a few minutes, use the unit and questions as a review for a few days, or do the whole unit as it is over more than a week in 90 minute blocks or other schedule formats. I believe the unit is very flexible.

I also have a CD available for those interested which has all of the materials here and additional extended video clips build into the power-point. Those who are interested in obtaining a CD can attend my presentation at the North Carolina Science Teachers Conference in Greensboro, NC in November of 2009 or contact me at