iDigPaleo Teacher Workshop
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iDigPaleo Workshop

Yale Peabody Museum 

July 20-21, 2015


See millions of fossils behind-the-scenes in the paleontology divisions at the Peabody Museum and help scientists develop tools to bring those collections into your classroom.  Data from these sorts of collections forms the basis for much of what we know about the natural world, including where species of plants and animals occur today; what life was like millions of years ago; how life evolves over time; and how changes in the environment (such as global climate change) affect plants and animals. The Peabody Museum is developing an interactive collections database that will allow students to use real data from our collections in the same way that scientists do, to explore these sorts of questions about the biosphere.  Using your knowledge of curricula at these age levels, we’d like you to help develop guided experiences (modules) for students to use this information in their classrooms to look at real-world scientific questions. The resources you help develop will directly support numerous Next Generation Science Standards, such as MS-ESS2-3: Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions, and MS-LS4-1: Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.


This workshop is funded by NSF Award Number 1305066 - Digitization TCN: Fossil Insect Collaborative: A Deep-Time Approach to Studying Diversification and Response to Environmental Change

Lead PIs: Dena Smith, Talia Karim Univerisity of Colorado Boulder

Yale Peabody Museum Principal Investigators: Susan Butts and Christopher Norris


Workshop leaders


Project Information


Acess the database:




Day 1 (July 20)

Introductions, Workshop Overview

Norris talk: Fossil Insect Collaborative, iDigPaleo, and museum collections overview

Heiser talk: Bio/Evo background and NGSS Science Standards

Butts talk: Fossil insects overview (preservation, famous deposits, paleoecology)

Behind-the-scenes collections tours: Entomology division, Invertebrate Paleontology Division, Vertebrate Paleontology Division

Kaufman talk: iDigPaleo Database overview

Exercise: database exploration - individual

Exercise: database exploration - iin small groups brainstorming lesson plans

Group reports: brainstorming

Database Discussion


Research case 1: Erin Saupe, Yale Insitute for Biospheric Studies Postdoctoral Researcher

Research case 2: Michael Henehan, Yale Geology and Geophysics Postdoctoral Researcher

Research case 3: Susan Butts, Division of Invertebrate Paleontology, Yale Peabody Museum



Day 2 (July 21)

Review and Questions from the previous day

Activity and lesson plan creation

Group Presentations


Group Notes/Documentation



  • Lesson plan - 7th grade level - Constructing a Carboniferous dragonfly model
  • Lesson plan - Middle School (6th through 8th grade) - Compare ancient and modern insect ecosystems
  • Lesson plan - High school level - Climate Creations using Dragonflies