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Abstract

This practical article features an arts-integrated science unit on fossils of the Burgess Shale for fourteen elementary/ middle school students at a weeklong summer day camp. The day camp had a theme of recycling, reduction and reuse; all of the fossil models had substantial recycled components to support this theme. Next Generation Science Standards were supported by the course activities in which students examined fossil specimens, images, and comparative modern relatives to determine the anatomy and lifestyles of Burgess Shale Cambrian Period fossil animals (e.g., Olenoides trilobites, Anomalocaris, Canadaspis, Opabinia, Wiwaxia, Hallucigenia) through making scientific drawings and craft models (3-LS4-1), interpreting the environments in which they thrived by creating a diorama (3-LS4-3), considering how populations change as the environment changes (3-LS4-4), and creating a model of a fossil animal using only recycled plastic bottles, lids, pipe cleaners, beads, and sheet foam (3-5 ETS1-1). Students greeted the activities with great enthusiasm, demonstrating their learning of science content by eventually excelling at a fossil hunter game in which people related to paleontology were connected with their fossil finds or products and through responses to oral questions. Plans, results, and example student products document this effective arts-integrated science and engineering unit. Students expressed pride and excitement regarding their creations. Students engaged socially as they excitedly showed one another their creations and discussed their design choices.