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Virtual Science Fair

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Fossil Finds

Have science fun as a family! Complete activities with parental supervision.

  • Cardboard
  • Play-Doh, modeling clay, or salt dough
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Chopsticks
  • Paint brushes
  • Four “Sediments” – granola, rice, cereal, coffee grounds,
  1. Cut cardboard into a large desired shape.
  2. Use reference photos of your favorite prehistoric animals and plants to sculpt out of dough or clay to create fossils. Use a chopstick or pencil point to carve little details.
  3. Arrange the fossils onto the cardboard. The fossils can be laid out in order or they can be scattered about for assembly later.
  4. Draw some texture on the cardboard; mud cracks, footprints, other fossils, etc…
  5. Carefully sprinkle one sediment onto the fossils, try to get an even layer. Repeat this with the other sediments until the fossils are hidden.
  6. Use a paint brush to gently brush away the sediment from the fossil.
  7. Assemble the fossils if any of them were disturbed during excavation.
  8. Be sure to take a picture or video to share in the Facebook comments on the Buffalo Museum of Science or Tifft Nature Preserve pages!

What’s it all about?

Fossils are created over tens of thousands of years… or more! When living things leave things behind, this evidence sometimes get preserved in the rock record.

Think of it like a book with pages and pages of information. Every horizontal layer of sediment is a different page. As the layers of sediment build up over time, they get heavier, compressing everything beneath and squeezing out any excess water until everything becomes lithified – or stone! The further down the fossils in the rock record, the older the fossil is.

Try It!
  • From Tyrannosaurus to Mastodon, new fossil discoveries get named by the person who uncovers them; what will you name your fossil?
  • Why do you think it’s so important for paleontologists to be careful while they’re uncovering fossils? Try burying your fossils again or assembling them permanently with glue!

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