Of Fossil Children and Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I mentioned earlier, I've started training to give tours at the local Geology Museum. Whereas my previous volunteering for the Seattle Aquarium was in my field, this is a bit more of a stretch, though I am more comfortable with the paleontology side of things. But I'm welcoming the lack of awareness, as it gives me the opportunity to be in a more learning mood.

For the past two mornings, I've "shadowed" tours, for 6th and 3rd graders, for an hour each, to learn some about the rocks, and gain a better understanding of how the tours work. In the process, I've learned a couple cool pedagogical geology ideas.

When discussing rocks and minerals, discuss chocolate chip cookies. Each mineral is like the ingredient of a cookie. The cookie itself is the rock. Discuss ways we use minerals in every day life. Face glitter and sparkles in shampoo are pieces of mica. Kolinite Clay is what makes both Kaopectate and McDonald's milkshakes so thick and functional.

When discussing fossilization, have a child volunteer act out the process. First they die (but we'll bring them back to life as a fossil later). Then animals scavenge them, there is weathering, and they are covered over with many layers. Add a great deal of pressure, in a place without bacteria and oxygen. Slowly they become mineralized, as their bones get replaced with rock. Stress that all these things have to happen, which is one big reason why fossils are so rare, just as we'd expect.


mom said…
Really cool, Jed. Glad that you're back on the job. Your encyclopediac brain will bring great possibilities.
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