Timeline Research


This activity gives students a chance to explore the geologic/evolutionary history of the earth while using creativity and building research skills. In this project, students get to use their own judgement and evaluation techniques to decide which historical events are the most relevant, as well as their own "detective" skills to determine the events chosen by a classmate.



Students will create a timeline of the earth based on the evolutionary or geologic events that THEY feel are the most important. They will also enhance their research skills and techniques by identifying the events on a classmate's timeline.


National Science Education Standards:

Grades 5-8:

CONTENT STANDARD A (Science as Inquiry):


CONTENT STANDARD D (Earth and Space Science):

CONTENT STANDARD E (Science and Technology):


Class Time:

Can vary considerably depending upon how much research is done in class and how much students conduct on their own time. Most likely, two to three class periods is the minimum amount of time spent on this activity.





Each student (or pair of students) is to construct a geologic timeline of events. Instead of just copying one from the textbook or the internet, however, they are to include a variety of different events from a number of different sources (see timeline for some ideas). The events on each student's timeline should be only those events that the student feels have been truly significant or important in shaping the world today. For instance, they might include the appearance of mammals, the break-up of Pangea, or the extinction of dinosaurs. Encourage the students to be creative in the events that they chose and explain that each timeline should be somewhat unique. They can contruct their timelines using markers on poster-board so they can be easily displayed in the classroom or hallway.

In addition to making a timeline, students should provide the reference for each event they included as well as rationale for why they thought each event was important in the history of the earth. Before the timelines are seen by the rest of the class, however, students should exchange the list of dates they chose with another classmate (or pair of classmates). Now their job is to figure out which events were picked by their classmates using the internet and other reference materials available. In a way, it is like a scavenger hunt. The students use only their one clue, the date, and try to determine the event. The more creative each student is when choosing events, the more challenging it will be for his or her classmate to figure it out. After all students have made their predictions, the posters can be presented and students can see how close they were to figuring out their classmates' puzzles.



Students can be evaluated on a number of different criteria including:


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