Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oak Lawn makes a prehistoric discovery

Cranston Herald
July 29, 2010
All text by Jen Cowart

Although everyone knows that dinosaurs have been extinct for some time now, the students in Dianne Stebbins’s first grade class got some hands-on archeological experience with dinosaurs at the end of the school year.

Stebbins, with the help of her science teacher husband, “Mr. Hank,” created an archeological dig in the park adjacent to the school for her class, allowing them to hone some of their scientific skills learned this year.

According to Principal Linda Stanelun, Stebbins was the primary representative from Oak Lawn School for a larger group of Cranston teachers studying the Cranston Public Schools’ science curriculum as part of district training through the University of Texas’ Dana Center.

The archeological dig was the culminating activity following an extensive science unit about dinosaurs.

“The students learned about dinosaurs first. There was a technology component as well, where they had to research a dinosaur on and find out if it was a meat-eater or a plant-eater and write three facts about the dinosaur,” said Stebbins. “We use technology in here a lot. Even though we’re only a first grade, we use it often.”

Stebbins’ husband, “Mr. Hank,” went over different types of dinosaurs with the students as well, and then he created the archeological site for the students by hiding models of dinosaurs in the sand.

Marking each dig site with a popsicle stick allowed the students, who went out to dig in pairs, to easily spot their site and get right to work.

Once they found their dinosaurs the students had to then write about what they found using “Mr. Hank’s Ancient Reptiles,” which was a checklist and picture chart of many different varieties of dinosaurs.

The final photo on the chart looked conspicuous, with Hank Stebbins head Photoshopped on it and the name “Hankosaurus” underneath it. According to the guide, it is “a bipedal creature often found wandering around the Oak Lawn School in the vicinity of Mrs. Stebbins’ room.”

“We had to go out and find dinosaurs, and then when we came in, we had to write about it,” said Abby Shellard, a student in Stebbins’ class. “They asked us what the name of our dinosaur was, what color it was, and the number of legs it had.”

Shellard said she enjoyed the archeological dig very much.

“It was fun because we were outside and we got to have fresh air and we learned about dinosaurs,” she said. “I really like to learn about dinosaurs.”

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