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I order a lot of shells (online from SeaShellCity.com) and the students make their own limestones. We put the shells in portland cement (in large square ziploc containers); let them harden for a week, then cut them on the rock saw. I have done this in a few ways. Simple way for 3D reasoning: have students make a predictive sketch of what their limestone will look like cut. Then grade the accuracy of their prediction (award a prize). Elaborate way for 3D reasoning, taphonomy and paleoenvironmental reconstruction: I sometimes provide the class with a carbonate shelf facies model (with a slide show from my own research), and have them work in teams, select an environment (from a map provided), research what benthos might live in that environment, then order shells of the calcareous ones, break those shells if necessary, and finally build a rock from the shells + portland cement. It really teaches taphonomy (especially comparing who lives in the environment vs. who makes it into the fossil record). Often, I then have the teams swap their rocks, and cut and interpret another team's rock.
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