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Smithsonian Science How Webcast

Inside the Smithsonian’s Fossil Prep Lab

In this video, Smithsonian fossil preparator Michelle Pinsdorf demonstrates how she cleans and prepares fossils for study and display.

Description: 

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. 

STEM Discipline:

Fossil Preparation

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National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)


Earth Science

MS-ESS1

Earth's Place in the Universe
  • MS-ESS1-4Construct 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-ESS2-2Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
Life Science

MS-LS4

Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
  • MS-LS4-1Analyze 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-LS4-2Apply 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.

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards

MS-ESS1, MS-ESS2, MS-LS4