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Fossil Fun in your Kitchen

This article appeared in the January 9, 2015 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

 

By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise

 

Even though it’s only January, plans are afoot at Explorit to provide another stellar summer of hands-on science at Summer Science Camp with fascinating topics and projects for students entering Pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade. On the slate for this year is an all-new camp all about studying the ground beneath our feet—Geology!

 

From caves to volcanoes, there will be much to explore as we dig deep to uncover the Earth’s many mysteries. One of the projects awaiting our geology campers is a foray into paleontology and the world of fossils.

 

Fossils are made from plants or animals that used to be alive. So a dinosaur’s bone or tooth could become a fossil, but so could the leaves or bark of a plant. The leaves may leave an imprint in mud that hardens to become stone even after the plant itself is long gone.

 

You can join in the geology by making a fossil imprint at home! You will need: 1 cup of baking soda, ½ cup of cornstarch, ¾ cup of water, a pan, a stove, a spoon, a toothpick, a straw or pencil, a baking sheet, an oven and an adult to help with the hot stuff.

 

Mix your baking soda and cornstarch together in the pan and stir in the water until it’s all mixed together. Put the pan on the stove and turn the heat on low. Keep stirring the mixture until it looks and feels like play dough, being careful not to get burned, then set it aside for a few minutes to cool.

 

When the dough is cool enough to handle, knead it with your hands until it becomes very smooth. Take a small ball of dough and flatten it in your hand like a thick pancake. You can make as many fossils and you have small balls of dough.

 

When your dough ball is nice and flat, it’s ready to become a fossil. Now find some things to make imprints of. Maybe you want to pick some leaves outside or use a favorite plastic toy. If you make your dough ball big enough, you might even be able to do your hand!

 

Press your imprint object gently into the dough to make an impression, then remove it slowly so it’s shape stays in the dough. If you want to be able to hang your fossil up, use the straw or pencil to punch a hole in the dough so you’ll have a place to add a string later. You can also use your toothpick to carve your initials or the date into the dough if you like.

 

When you’re happy with how your fossil looks, set it on the baking tray and bake in the oven at 200° F for about an hour or until dry. Cool fossils on the baking sheet and then display as desired! Enjoy your new fossil and be on the lookout for more information about Summer Science Camp 2015.

 

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Explorit’s coming events:

 

  • Explorit’s Beautiful World: Science and Art exhibition is open to the public every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and every Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free.
  • Cap off your Picnic Day with Explorit at Sudwerk Brewing Company Dock Store for a fundraiser on Saturday, April 18. Details coming soon!
  • Interested in membership?  Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed?  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up!
  • Birthdays are back at Explorit!  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 for more information or to book your party.

 

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Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit http://www.explorit.org, or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

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