South Orangetown Central School District

Last week, third graders in Patricia McCarthy and Kristyn Rastelli’s class at Cottage Lane Elementary School became archaeologists for a day and had to try and identify various fossils!

CLE technology teacher Jacob Tanenbaum brought in fossils from his personal collection that he found in the Sahara Desert and the Andes Mountains. Working in groups, students had to observe each fossil to figure out whether it came from land or water and if the species is extinct or if it currently exists today. They then had to document their findings and sketch each fossil. “I’m trying to show students how the land has changed over time and cause and effect. The fossils I brought in are from creatures that lived millions of years ago so I want them to look for clues and find noticeable characteristics that would give them an idea of where it came from and what kind of organism it is,” explained Tanenbaum.

Students observed trilobite fossils and one mystery organism. When talking with Tanenbaum and teaching assistant Mary Scully, one student correctly guessed that instead of a fossil, it was actually cold water coral! After reviewing their findings, Tanenbaum gave students ideas on how they can study rocks to see how they have changed over time from the ancient sea bottom by the Palisades cliffs.

Third graders look at fossils