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Mass Extinction - Solving the Dinosaur Mystery

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Earth and Space Sciences +1 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)

This Smithsonian Science How learning collection, from Q?rius at the National Museum of Natural History, is part of a distance learning program at http://qrius.si.edu/explore-science/webcast This collection focuses on the end-Cretaceous extinction event that included dinosaurs. Targeted at middle schoolers, the collection invites students into an authentic understanding of the evidence for and causes of the mass extinction. Paleobotanist Dr. Kirk Johnson is featured as an expert explainer. The collection includes an interactive webcast video with discussion questions, cross-cutting activities, an independent project, and other resources for teachers and students.

Key Terms:

paleontology, dinosaur, fossil record, mass extinction, asteroid, Cretaceous period, K-T boundary

Key Concepts:

  • Extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous
  • Causes of mass extinction events
  • Interpreting ecosystem changes through fossils
  • Reconstructing ancient environments
  • Technology used by paleontologists