Whose Skull? Enquiry Based Learning in Junior School.
Below are some emails between Junior School Beetles group and QLD Museum.
This was not a planned program activity, but the students just kept asking about a skull that was brought in by someone from the Beetles group and it just had to be investigated! The students helped to write the email. The students had learnt about writing letters earlier in term 3 and it was a meaningful way to revisit this type of genre writing whilst tying in with science enquiry skills.
To: Discovery Centre Subject: mammal
Ask a Question
Name: The Glenleighden School – Junior School – Beetles Class
Information for:Primary School
Dear Sir or Madame,
One of our students has found a skull in his front yard near Fairfield.
He brought it into our Junior School Class (aged 7-9 years old). Our Class name is the Beetles Class. The whole Beetles Class really want to know what the animal used to be.
We have attached a couple of photos. The skull is about 6cm long and we noticed some interesting teeth at the front. Some students thought it might have been a dinosaur. But we have also looked at some pictures of small possums and rats and mice from the Wildlife of Greater Brisbane Book.
Can you please help us find out what animal it is?
From The Beetles Class
and their Teachers Tegan and Belinda.
From: Discovery Centre [mailto:Discovery-Centre@qm.qld.gov.au] Sent: Tuesday, 2 September 2014 3:11 PM To: Tegan Streeter Subject: RE: skull
The skull in your photos is from a Brushtail Possum (a species of Trichosurus).
Here’s an easy way to tell that your specimen isn’t from a dinosaur: nearly all dinosaurs have only one type of teeth in their jaws (this is technically called ‘homodonty’). Mammals, like possums, dogs, and us, have several different types of teeth in their jaws (called ‘heterodonty’). Try feeling your teeth with your tongue. You’ll notice that the teeth at the front of your mouth (incisors) have a different shape to those at the back (premolars and molars).
Teeth can tell us a lot about what an animal eats. Brushtail Possums have sharp teeth at the front of the mouth for nipping, a blade-shaped tooth for slicing, and flattish teeth at the back for grinding. This allows them to eat a range of foods, including leaves, fruit, and eggs.
You can read about Brushtail Possums on our website: http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Mammals/Common+mammals+of+south-east+Queensland/Marsupials/Common+Brushtail+Possum
Thank you for your inquiry.