Fascinating Fossils Stage 4 - Teachers Notes

Fascinating Fossils Stage 4 activities are designed for a session with a Museum educator. The program provides opportunities for students to handle and closely examine cast and real specimens to determine relationships between two modern-day marsupials and the Diprotodon – an extinct Australian marsupial.

Diprotodon reconstruction

James King © Australian Museum

Before your visit

Syllabus links

The syllabus links for this activity to the New South Wales Board of Studies Science 7–10 Syllabus document are detailed below.

Students learn about: Students learn to:
 4.8.2 classification  a) classify living things according to structural features and identify that they have patterns of similarities and differences
 4.8.4 multicellular organisms  a) identify that there is a wide range of multicellular organisms
 4.14 performing
first-hand investigations
 a) follow the planned procedure when performing an investigation
b) use time and resources effectively
c) safely and efficiently construct, assemble and manipulate identified equipment
d) record data using the appropriate units
e) demonstrate the use of safe and hygienic work practices including the correct use of safety equipment.
 4.15 gathering first-hand information  a) make and record observations and measurements accurately
 4.16 gathering information from secondary sources  c) extract information from ...resources
 4.17 processing information a) collate information from a number of sources
b) distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information
d) organise data ...
f) identify trends, patterns, relationships ...
 4.18 presenting information  e) use ... tables ... to show relationships and present information clearly and/or succinctly.
 4.19 thinking critically  a) justify inferences in light of gathered information
b) identify data which supports ... a question being investigated ...
c) predict outcomes and generate plausible explanations directly related to observations made
 4.21 the use of creativity and imagination  d) propose ideas that demonstrate coherence and logical progression
 4.22.2 working in teams  e) set and work to realistic timelines and goals as a team
g) monitor progress of the team towards completion of a task

Pre-visit activities

To make the most of your visit to the exhibition we recommend that you prepare your students beforehand by:

  • introducing concepts related to:
    • what a fossil is,
    • extinction and that, over time, many Australian animals have become extinct,
    • organisms are classified using physical features and those with similar features tend to be more closely related.
  • providing a context for the excursion to the Museum including the reasons for visiting the Museum, the tasks to be completed and the expected outcomes. 


Please photocopy the following materials for each student:

The following materials should be photocopied for each supervising adult:

At the Australian Museum

The Fascinating Fossils Stage 4 - Diprotodon activity is led by a Museum educator. Students work in small groups to complete a hands-on investigation of 45 – 60 minutes duration.

Students handle and closely examine fossil casts from an extinct megafauna marsupial, Diprotodon, to investigate some body structures and their associated functions. They then compare Diprotodon skull and foot structures with two modern-day marsupials – the Tasmanian Devil and the Common Wombat. Using their observations, students are asked to determine which modern-day marsupial is more closely related to the extinct Diprotodon.

Organisational tips

  • A Museum educator will guide the students and introduce the session.
  • Students will be divided into small groups and each group will be allocated an Activity Box containing a similar set of specimens and information cards.
  • After an introduction to the Diprotodon – Australia’s largest megafauna and the world’s largest ever marsupial, students will complete the Diprotodon activity. The Museum educator will facilitate the investigations.
  • Teachers should assist students where appropriate and ensure they remain on task.
  • After the session, teachers can guide students to the Surviving Australia exhibition on Level 2 to view a life-sized Diprotodon reconstruction and real fossils from Diprotodon and other extinct Australian megafauna. (Note: these displays are found at the end of the Surviving Australia exhibition that is closest to the Dinosaurs exhibition.)

Ms Jen Cork , Online Producer
Last Updated:

Tags student, program, education, educator-led, megafauna, diprotodon,