From Fish to Fossils

April 8, 2019

The 7th grade science students have been very busy during 4th quarter.  While studying about fossils of Nebraska, students were able to participate in two virtual field trips - one with Morrill Hall and the other with Ashfall Fossil Beds. Student have also been collecting data on trout that are being raised in the classroom.  Finally, students participated in a trout dissection.

Students learned the differences between the four extinct ancient elephants that lived in Nebraska.  Students learned that elephants have 4 teeth and that not all teeth are used for the same purpose - the Gomphothere used its teeth to mash fruit and tubers, the Stegomastodon used its teeth to grind and mash leaves, branches and grass, the Mastodon used its teeth to slice pine needles and branches, and the Mammoth used its teeth to grind grass.  Students also learned that the elephants lived in different environments.

Students also learned about a volcano in Idaho that erupted 12 million years ago that sent ash eastward covering parts of Nebraska.  One of these areas is present-day Ashfall Fossil Beds. Dozens of rhinos, horses, camels are essentially frozen in time - much like the people who died at Pompeii.  The smallest animals like birds and tortoises died first, followed by the medium sized animals such as horses and camels died next, and finally the barrel bodied rhinos died last because they were the largest animals.  Students also learned that Mike Voorhies, a famous Nebraskan paleontologist, was the first to find a rhino skull.

As an extension of raising trout in the classroom, students dissected trout over two days. Students learned about the different fins and the organs. They cut out the eye to discover the lens is spherical which helps the trout see underwater.  Students were surprised to learn that the trout’s tongue has sharp teeth on its surface. Finally, students compared and contrasted trout and humans.  

We will be ending the year with learning about the nitrogen and carbon cycles, and launching 2-liter bottle rockets.  If you should have any extra clean empty 2-liter bottles, please donate these to the 7th grade science classes at Lexington Middle School.