Shoebox Dinosaur Dig Site

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In this activity, (on page 6 of the PDF under SciGirls Activity: Dinosaurs) learners participate in a hands-on fossil excavation. Groups of learners will receive a shoebox full off sand in which several chicken bones have been buried at various levels. After preparing string grid lines over the “dig site,” they will carefully brush away sand and record observations as each bone is discovered. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Dinosaurs.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • chicken wing and/or drum- stick bones, cleaned and sanitized
  • boxes, such as a large shoe or boot box
  • sand, enough to fill each box three-quarters full
  • buckets, to hold “excavated” sand
  • plastic spoons, as digging tools
  • 1-inch wide paint brushes
  • string
  • tape
  • markers
  • paper and rulers


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth's History
      • Archeology
      • Geologic Time
      • Fossils
      • Dinosaurs
  • Life Sciences
    • Evolution
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
    • Science as a Career

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Highlights STEM opportunities for this group
    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2006

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 436260