Science Projects Ideas on Dinosaurs

Students can participate in a variety of science projects about dinosaurs.

Young students love to learn about dinosaurs and how fossils were created in prehistoric times. Teachers can plan science projects and hands-on activities related to dinosaurs that help young students learn about the world where dinosaurs lived. Students also can see how dinosaur scientists work to uncover bones and learn how fossil fuels are created.

1 Make a Fossil

Students learn about the prehistoric world when studying dinosaurs in science class. In this project from the Home Training Tools website, students make their own fossils using everyday household items. Teachers collect shells, leaves and rocks to use as fossils. On the day of the project, the teacher prepares a mixture of coffee grounds, flour and salt, adding the cold coffee later to make a dough. Each student gets a small handful of dough to place on a piece of wax paper. The student flattens the dough until it is about ¼ inch thick. Using the shells, leaves and rocks, students create “fossil imprints” in the dough. In a few days, the fossil will be dry enough to take home.

2 Archaeologist for A Day

After studying the role of an archaeologist, students can dig for their own fossils in this activity submitted by Tari on the Perpetual Preschool website. The teacher prepares the fossils a week or so ahead of time to allow for adequate drying. She needs at least one small trash can to prepare the fossil mixture, depending on the size of her class. The teacher will want to make sure that each student is able to find fossils. She fills each can with two or three boxes of plaster of Paris, three cups of sand and water. Mix while adding a bag of small plastic dinosaurs, shells and rocks. On the day of the “dig,” remove the dried mixture from the cans onto a table. Use a hammer to flatten the mixture a bit for the kids. Using goggles, screwdrivers, small hammers and fat paint brushes, student archaeologists work to carefully discover the fossils that have been buried.

3 Dinosaur Bread

Teachers can facilitate experiments that teach students about fossil fuels while they are learning about dinosaurs. In this activity from Oklahoma’s Oil and Natural Gas website, students use everyday foods to create “Dinosaur Bread.” They begin with three slices of different types of bread, gummy animals, paper towels and a stack of heavy books. Teachers explain to students that the layers of bread represent sediment that collects over millions of years. Students then insert a few gummy animals in the middle layer to represent dinosaurs that died and became fossils. They wrap the bread in paper towels and carefully place a few heavy books on top of the bread fossil. The next day, the class predicts what the Dinosaur Bread will look like. Students “uncover” their bread fossil to see what happened.

Kimberlee Broaddus is a fourth grade teacher in California who has written articles for her school's monthly newsletter. She holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis on early elementary education. She currently sits on a district writing committee working on curriculum and assessments for local schools.