iDigPaleo brings museum collections to your classroom. Behind the scenes, museums have millions of fossils not on display. These fossils are used by researchers to look at how animals are related, how they have changed over time, to reconstruct past environments, and to help us understand biodiversity, climate change, and how animals respond to climate change. Since it is difficult to bring the class into the collections, iDigPaleo brings the collections to the classroom. We’ve also created ready-to-go activities for your classroom that are geared to address National Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Fiona, a high school junior and one of our summer interns in the Fossil Insect Collaborative, can give your class a 1 minute introduction to the project:

FIC Intro
Why we digitize

Using iDigPaleo

A full user guide will be published and below is a quick intro to iDigPaleo.

iDigPaleo is designed for public exploration and for elementary, junior high, and high school classroom use. It gives students the opportunity to see fossils that might never go on display and allows them to use real scientific data in the same way that scientists do. On iDigBio, you can browse or search by the type of fossil (we’ve added common names to facilitate!), the age of the fossil, or where the fossil was collected. You can chose to only look at fossil that include a photograph. A single or group of fossils can be plotted on a map.

When you click on an image (and are logged on) you have a range of tools at your disposal, including zooming in or out, annotating points, boxes or polygons, measuring tools, and image manipulation. Depending on the mode you are in, your modifications will either be saved for your future use, or shared with a wider audience, such as with your teacher, or with your entire class. Digital objects can be grouped into a curated collection - what we call an “assignment” in iDigPaleo.

Teachers and students register for iDigPaleo. The student accounts are tied to the teacher, enabling interaction (for example, a teacher asks a question and the students can share their answers with the teacher). Teachers can view their students and can see and modify all assignments they’ve created and also all the student responses. Once an assignment is created, teachers have many options:

  • Share the assignment with your class as a URL that allows them to register and view interact with the assignment,
  • generate powerpoint presentation including captions from data, or
  • generate a PDF handout or checklist.

You might have your students:

  • answer questions or share observations by adding comments at the assignment, or item level,
  • annotate images or measure objects with a research or curriculum standard goal, or
  • have students respond to lab questions by creating their own collection of items complete with name, description, image annotations, and comments.