WEBCAST: Inside the Smithsonian’s Fossil Prep Lab

Watch the archive of the webcast featuring Smithsonian fossil preparator Michelle Pinsdorf. In the show, Michelle demonstrates how she cleans and prepares fossils for study and display.

Smithsonian Science How: Inside the Smithsonian's Fossil Prep Lab

Featuring Fossil Preparator Michelle Pinsdorf

Meet Michelle Pinsdorf, fossil preparator at the National Museum of Natural History. Have you ever wondered how scientists decipher the information encrypted in fossils? Every fossil is a time capsule containing a record of events that happened on Earth thousands or millions of years ago. Michelle cleans and prepares fossils to better expose them for study and display. See how she carefully preserves fossils to maintain their value far into the future. Consider how art and fossil preparation go hand in hand. 

Watch a recording of the March 9, 2017, webcast using the player above. The webcast aligns with national science standards.

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video using the player above.

      2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

           3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students

                4. Take the webcast SURVEY 


The Fossil Preparation webcast package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-ESS1 Earth's Place in the Universe

  • MS-ESS1-4 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old-history

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales

MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

  • MS-LS4-1 Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past
  • MS-LS4-2 Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships