From fossils to geodes, students rock out 2010.02.24

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Steve Tchozeski picked up a large object from a table and held it up for Morenci second grade students to see. It didn’t take students long to figure out they were looking at an enormous tooth.front.fossils.jpg

“This came from an animal that walked through your playground about 10,000 years ago,” said Mr. Tchozeski, from Great Lakes GeoScience.

It came from a mastodon skeleton that was found not too far from Morenci, he said, and he noted that mastodons covered quite a wide range in their search for food.

It just might have plodded through Morenci at one time.

Next Mr. Tchozeski showed students some common fossils found in Michigan such as coral—a marine organism that lives in clear, shallow, tropical oceans.

What does this tell you about Michigan’s past?

“This tells me that at one time Michigan was covered with a warm, tropical ocean,” Mr. Tchozeski said.

The coral had been imbedded in limestone collected from a quarry near Charlevoix, Mich. It was about 350 million years old.

Mr. Tchozeski told the young science students they would soon be given a small sack of Charlevoix limestone and a special scientific instrument to assist their collection of fossils—a toothbrush.

Anything they found—coral, brachiopods, sponges—they could keep to take home.

Mr. Tchozeski explained that scientists must use their knowledge of plants and animals to work as detectives to learn about the past.steve.tchozeski.jpg

He picked up an enormous footprint embedded in rock—the print of a three-toed dinosaur. A friend of his found a path of the footprints that extended nearly a mile. The raptors walked through mud which, over millions of years, became shale rock.

By comparing the prints to today’s lizards, his friend concluded the animals were walking. A running or jumping dinosaur would have left a much different footprint behind. Small prints were found in the center of the trail, with larger prints on the outside.

“The babies were in the middle and the older dinosaurs were on the outside,” Mr. Tchozeski said. “They were good parents.”

He wrapped up his examples of how scientists read fossils, then gave students their turn to become paleontologists for the day.

• Great Lakes Geoscience offers a variety of geological experiences for school students. In addition to the fossil program for the second grade, fourth grade students were given a quartz crystal dig; kindergarten students looked at geodes; first grade students studied minerals; and third graders learned about volcanoes.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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