Teams designed and built a life-size model of an iguanodon leg from galvanised wire, newspaper gauze impregnated with plaster of Paris

The Bone Trail is an exciting schools project funded jointly by the British Society for the History of Science, Bolton Local Authority Secondary Strategy and the Manchester Museum.

A team of three educators — one academic historian of science (Emm Barnes) and two science teachers (Peter Fowler and Alison Henning) — designed two full days of activities for Year 9 students on the history of comparative anatomy, geology, and palaeontology. The emphasis was on teaching thinking skills, and inspiring enthusiasm in earth sciences in particular and in learning in general. Students from Westhoughton High School and the Frances Bardsley School for Girls tested the activities in May 2006. We are most grateful to the teachers in these schools for their commitment to the project.

Teams designed and built a life-size model of an iguanodon leg from galvanised wire, newspaper gauze impregnated with plaster of Paris. In the northern pilot, we were fortunate enough to have a fossilised iguanodon femur to help children calculate the size of the model leg required. The resulting models were, frankly, stunning.

These interdisciplinary activities encourage children to reflect on their process skills, and offer scope for teachers to cater to the full range of learning preferences. Enrichment materials are typically designed for children identified as ‘gifted and talented,’ but these are intended for use with all children, as we believe that every child can benefit, intellectually and socially, from the extra attention and from making connections between different subject areas.

Downloadable resources

Edible geology

Edible geology

These materials are presented in pdf format.

  • The Bone Trail overview (2.6MB) Contains project contents; cover page; overview of the project; “Stepping up” (teachers’ notes on thinking skills); introductory exercise for students (cross-subject connections); final exercise (“Build your own dinosaur leg”); details of further resources.
  • History materials (6.8MB) Materials on the meaning of fossils; worksheets on individual investigators (Mary Anning, James Scott Bowerbank, Gideon Mantell); William Smith versus the Geological Society; geological maps over time; changing ideas on the representation and modelling of dinosaurs; dinosaurs in popular culture.
  • Science materials (2.6MB) Materials on comparative anatomy; fossil formation; Charles Lyell and the Principles of Geology; “edible geology” activity (chocolate cakes and sandwiches); geological timeline activity; making sedimentary rock.

The resources can be used as they stand. If, however, you wish to register as a pilot school or museum, and receive assistance from the authors in planning delivery of the full programme, please contact [email protected]

More about the Bone Trail

Several of the project’s co-ordinators led a discussion during a session at our 2006 Annual Conference, leading into a demonstration of the “edible geology” activity, as discussed in the conference report.

A piece by Emm Barnes on the Bone Trail and its implications for outreach work appears in the October 2006 issue of Viewpoint.