Dinosaurs - Stages 4-6 - Student Activities

Self-guided stimulus questions for Stages 4-6 Science, Biology and Earth and Environmental students to explore the Dinosaurs exhibition.

Self-guided activity for secondary students

Divide your class into small groups of 5-6 students. Cut out the four themed sets of questions below and hand out one or two of these to each group (each set of questions should take approximately 20 minutes).

The four sections are based the different sections of the exhibition:

  • Dinosaur World,
  • Dinosaur Life,
  • Discovering Dinosaurs
  • Surviving Dinosaurs.

Direct students to the areas they are working on using the attached map and arrange a meeting spot in the exhibition to come back to when they are finished. You may wish to have each group present their findings back to the class during your visit or back at school.

Information to assist teachers with the answers to these questions can be found in the Teacher's Notes. The exhibition is full of specimens, models, imagery and text that will provide students with the inspiration to investigate and answer all the questions.


Dinosaur World

Have a look at the Dinosaur World section of the exhibition, shedding light on the Mesozoic era of 251-65 million years ago. How has the earth changed since the Mesozoic eras?

  • What were atmospheric carbon dioxide levels like then?
  • Did the polar ice caps exist?
  • What sorts of animals and plants co-existed with dinosaurs?
  • Do you recognise any Mesozoic plants or animals that look like those on Earth today?


Dinosaur Life

How do we know so much about dinosaur diets, lifestyles and specialisations if they lived so long ago?

  • Find the modern-day animal teeth and see if you can guess what sorts of food they eat. Compare them to the many types of fossilised dinosaur teeth. Do any look the same?
  • Why did some dinosaurs eat rocks? What is the scientific name for a rock found in a dinosaur's belly? What modern-day animals swallow rocks?
  • What do palaeontologists call fossilised dinosaur poo and why do they like it so much?


Discovering Dinosaurs

Most people have heard about fossilised dinosaur bones but what other sorts of fossils are there and how do they form?

  • What is the oldest fossil you can see? Where was it found and what does it tell us?
  • If you wanted to find a fossil, what types of rock are best to look in? Touch some examples. Are they hard or soft?
  • Can you find a fossil that hasn't completely changed to rock? (It might still have some real bone, tissue or wood remaining.)
  • Go to the Dino Lab to see Centrosaurus fossils being dug up, glued and prepared. What parts of the Centrosaurus have been found so far?


Surviving Dinosaurs

Before viewing this section discuss as a group what you think caused dinosaurs to become extinct. Are there any dinosaurs still living today?

  • What do birds and dinosaurs have in common?
  • Can you find an animal that is an evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs?
  • Why do you think birds were the only dinosaurs to survive the 'mass extinction'
  • Did dinosaurs die out suddenly or over a long period of time?
  • Can you see any similarities between the end of the Mesozoic and the earth today? (Think about climate change, increase in species extinction, change in environments across the earth etc.)

Pauline Fitzgerald
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