Learning from Fossils - Stage 6 Biology Teacher Notes

Learning from Fossils is a program for Stage 6 Biology students. A Museum educator will introduce the session and assist the groups of 4-5 students as they conduct hands-on investigations. The activities increase the students’ understanding of the applications and uses of biology. Students work with real and cast fossils and skeletal specimens of modern Australian animals.


Student with Diprotodon fossils

Student with Diprotodon fossils
Photographer: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

Before your visit

Syllabus links

The Learning from Fossils program is specifically designed for the NSW Board of Studies Stage 6 Biology syllabus topic, 8.5 Evolution of Australian Biota. Detailed syllabus links.

Pre-visit activities

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

  • introducing or revising relevant terminology used in the Learning from Fossils student activity sheets such as meagafauna, Gondwana, and Pleistocene.
  • 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

On-site activities

Students work in small groups of 4-5 students and conduct hands-on investigations. Teachers assist in facilitating the students' learning and keeping them on task.

The activities increase the students' understanding of the applications and uses of biology while they work with real and cast fossils and skeletal specimens of modern Australian animals.
There are five hands-on activities:

  1. The Diprotodon
  2. Short-faced kangaroos
  3. Mammal teeth
  4. Reconstructing animals from fossils
  5. Platypus evolution.

All students complete the Platypus evolution activity and one allocated megafauna activity.

Organisational tips
  • A Museum educator will meet your group, introduce the activities and facilitate as students conduct their investigations.
  • Sessions are one hour in length and students will not have time to complete all five Museum activities in a single session. Longer sessions can be booked.
  • During the session, all students will complete Activity 5: Platypus evolution. Students are also allocated one other activity (1-4) on Australian megafauna.
  • We suggest that a reporting session is held back at school so students can share and discuss all the activities and teachers can use the answers provided to clarify and expand as needed.

Ms Helen Wheeler , Learning Services Operations Manager
Last Updated:

Tags educator-led, student, learning, megafauna, school,