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Students select dinosaurian models (toys) from a selection of Carnegie, Natural History Museum (London) and other manufacturers (Schleich, Safari, etc). Each student identifies their dinosaur, places it on a cladogram (provided) and determines when it lived. They then measure the dinosaur in three dimensions (length, width, height), compare one or more of these dimensions to "real" dimensions provided (usually the model says what the length was). Dividing "real" by "measured" yields a scale. Students then determine how much water their model displaces. NOTE: Most textbooks show this happening with a beaker. Beakers are no where near accurate enough to use, and many dinosaurs dont fit in them anyway. You need either extremely large graduated cylinders (unlikely) or else large containers in a sink. What works best is to have students fill a container to overflowing (in the sink, obviously), then gently dunk their dinosaur, causing the vessel to overflow, then retrieve their dinosaur. THEN you can use a graduated cylinder to refill the container and measure the amount of water displaced. Once students have a scale and a volume, the can cube the former and multiply it by the latter to yield an estimate of the volume of the actual dinosaur. Multiplying this by a density estimate provides an estimated mass. I have them bracket it by taking 0.9kg/L and 1.05kg/L for "light" and "heavy." Feathered theropods are even lighterâI have them use 0.8 g/L for the light estimate. They then record their result (I am trying to generate a spreadsheet of these measurements over the years) and compare it to a published estimate. I should probably base their grade on the ratio of their estimate to the "actual" (if light, reversed if heavy) but generally just try to "police" the workâif they are way off, they need to go back and find what arithmetic error led to the problem. In the introductory classes this is a simple 1-sheet worksheet (front and back). For the honors students, they take the assignment home and write it up. PS. I let the anthropology majors play with models of Pleistocene megafauna instead.
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