E and ES Fossils - Stage 6 - Teacher Notes

In these educator-led activities students use real fossils and bones to investigate the extinction of Australia's megafauna. 

Diprotodon reconstruction

Diprotodon reconstruction
Photographer: James King © Australian Museum

Before your visit

Syllabus links

The activities link with the New South Wales Board of Studies Stage 6 Earth and Environmental Science Syllabus outcomes as detailed below:

9.3 Content: Environments Through Time
  • 1. Evidence from early Earth indicates the first life forms survived in changing habitats during the Archean and Proterozoic eons - students learn to examine and explain processes involved in fossil formation and the range of fossil types. 
  • 3. The Cambrian event - students interpret the relative age of a fossil from a stratigraphic sequence  and process information to examine at least one example of a stratigraphic sequence and describe any fossils found in this sequence.
  • 4. Exploiting new environments - students gather information from secondary sources to compare the diversity and numbers of organisms at a fossil site.
  • 5. Past extinction and mass extinction events - students explain the recent extinction of the marsupial, bird and reptile megafauna in Australia, as an example of smaller extinction events involving several large species. They analyse information from secondary sources on at least two different hypotheses used to explain the extinction of the megafauna. 

Pre-visit activities

To make the most of your visit we recommend that students:

  • have an understanding of the relevant terminology used in the student activity sheets such as megafauna and extinction.
  • understand the 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

On-site activities 

Facilitated by a Museum educator students work in small groups of 4–5 students and conduct two investigations during the hour. Teachers should assist in facilitating the students’ learning and keeping them on task. They work with cast fossil specimens as well as with written information and images.

There are two activities:

All students will complete both activities as well as viewing specimens of a stromatolite and banded iron.

Organisational tips 

  • A Museum educator will meet your group, introduce the activities and facilitate as students conduct their investigations.
  • All students will complete both activities.
  • We suggest that a reporting session is held back at school so students can share and discuss their experience at the Museum.

Ms Helen Wheeler , Learning Services Operations Manager
Last Updated:

Tags program, education, student, megafauna, educator-led, learning, environments through time,