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Science Friday: Make Your Own Sauropod Poop!

For those working from home while simultaneously caring for children, this free lab activity is great to have on hand (especially for those caring for middle school-aged children). Lab participants take on the role of experimental paleontologist, hypothesizing and testing theories by using examples of fossils and modern animals to better understand the ancient sauropod's digestive system. Readers may recognize sauropods, a plant-eating dinosaur most distinguished by their long necks, due to references in popular culture such as the film Jurassic Park. Provided for free in this activity are excellent diagrams, graphics, and materials that students use as their "artifacts." Through the activity, participants gain an appreciation of something as seemingly menial as fossilized dinosaur poop, while also gaining a better understanding of the digestive system functions in different animals we find on Earth today. The lab uses materials that can all be purchased at your local grocery store (or that you may already have on hand in your home) to actually observe the chemical processes that may have been taking place in the sauropod's stomach thousands of years ago. This resource was created by Nick VanAcker, a museum educator at the Michigan State University Museum, and is featured on the popular science site Science Friday (featured in the 10-13-2017 Scout Report).
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